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The Beeb's latest crash blossom

BBC News is a reliable source for the misleading headlines we know as crash blossoms (e.g., here, here, here). The latest comes to us via a Twitter tip from Ben Lillie, who retweeted Mikko Hypponen's double-take: "What took down the US drone? Iranian TV shows did! Or maybe I'm misreading this." Here's the headline: Iranian […]

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Defining "crash blossom"

It's been suggested by some commenters that the headline discussed in this post of mine isn't really a crash blossom; see Boris, for example. What's the definition, then? Boris thinks crash blossoms must "have a possible reading with the intended meaning". But I think my case satisfies that criterion.

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Crash blossom du jour, from the Beeb

The top headline in the Business section of BBC News currently reads: Greece fears batter markets again Sean Purdy, who sent this one in to Language Log Plaza, writes, "However hard I try to parse this correctly, I cannot suppress the mental image of traders buying and selling the raw materials for Yorkshire pud – […]

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BBC signals crash blossom threat

Josh Fruhlinger sends along today's entry in the "crash blossom" sweepstakes, a headline from the BBC News website: SNP signals debate legal threat Crash blossoms (as we've discussed here and here) are infelicitously worded headlines that cause confusion due to a garden-path effect. Here we begin with SNP, which British readers at least will recognize […]

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Headline ambiguity of the week

This one depends on word-sense ambiguity rather than on the structural and part-of-speech issues in the ambiguous headlines we've called crash blossoms. "After 9 months, women’s body to get new head", Times of India 8/26/2020: Nine months after being headless and non-functional, the Goa State Commission for Women is set to get a new chairperson. […]

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Chris Waigl helps fire managers

Chris Waigl is a longtime friend of Language Log — among her many accomplishments is the creation of the Eggcorn Database in 2005 (with contributions from Arnold Zwicky and me). These days she conducts post-doctoral research in the Boreal Fires team of the Alaska EPSCoR Fire and Ice project at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, […]

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"Hospitals named after sandwiches kill five"

Sherlocution Holmes is an entertaining UK-based Twitter presence with a bio that reads, "Consultant detective tracking down the best (and worst!) linguistics and language examples." Many of the tweets are humorous illustrations of structural or semantic ambiguity, including many examples of "crash blossoms" — those double-take headlines that are ambiguous enough to be laughably misinterpreted. […]

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Annals of English verbing

From Dana Loesch, Relentless, NRATV 8/22/2018: Your browser does not support the audio element. Th- they’re trying to Al Capone the president. I mean, you remember. Capone didn’t go down for murder. Elliot Ness didn’t put him in for murder. He went in for tax fraud. Prosecutors didn’t care how he went down as long […]

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Drug trial dies, dog due to be wed

Readers have recently sent in some examples of crash blossoms in headlines about tragic events. Melissa Chan, "Man Left Brain Dead After French Drug Trial Dies", Time Magazine 1/17/2016. Kim Willsher, "Man left brain-dead after French drug trial dies in hospital", The Guardian 1/17/2016. Will Worley, "France clinical trial: Man left brain-dead after drug test […]

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Andy Bodle, "Sub ire as hacks slash word length: getting the skinny on thinnernyms", The Guardian 12/4/2014 ("Headlinese is a useful little language – but it shouldn’t creep into the rest of the story. If front pages baffle you, read on for my jargon-busting thinnernymicon"): A stranger arriving in this land, English diploma clutched tightly, […]

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"Closed minds": open to interpretation?

CNN International recently sent out this tweet, linking to an interview with Stella McCartney: Stella McCartney: 'My parents opened doors and closed minds' #CNNwomen — CNN International (@cnni) November 29, 2014 The headline, which also appears on CNN's website, left some people perplexed. Was Ms. McCartney saying that her parents closed minds, or […]

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Ebola fear stalks Bloomberg headlines

Bloomberg News is notorious for its bizarre, impenetrable headlines. There's a whole Tumblr blog devoted to strange Bloomberg headlines, and Quartz last year ran an article looking into "how Bloomberg headlines got to be so odd." Here's a new one, spotted by David Craig and Brett Wilson:

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Finnish language flowers and Finnish accountability

Aspects of the Finnish language happen to have come up a couple of times in recent weeks on Language Log ("Rare Finnish Crash Blossom", 1/13/2012; "It's baaack . . . and upside-down!", 1/2/2012). Lauri Karttunen, from whom I learned a bit about Finnish when I was a grad student, sent in these comments: I did […]

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