A notable headline

From Chris Waigl, this headline in the Alaska Dispatch News politics section:

No gas-line veto override vote in sight

The headline is entirely accurate and grammatically impeccable, but the combination of three negative-tinged elements in it — veto, override, syntactic negation with no — makes it hard to understand.

The beginning of the story, by Nathaniel Herz on April 19th, provides the background and unpacks the parts of the headline:

Juneau — The Alaska Legislature appeared increasingly unlikely to vote on overriding Gov. Bill Walker’s veto of a bill from House Republican legislative leaders designed to thwart his plans for a state-controlled natural gas pipeline from the North Slope. [Note negative-tinged thwart.]

Walker vetoed the bill Friday, and the state Constitution requires the Legislature to consider an override “immediately.” A spokesman for the bill’s sponsor House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, had said the override attempt would be most likely to occur during a joint House-Senate session Sunday afternoon for votes on Walker’s cabinet and board appointees.

The confirmation session, however, concluded after more than five hours without an override vote on the bill, House Bill 132. [The negative-tinged without plays the role of the negative quantifier no here.]

A less informative (and more entertaining) headline might have made things easier for readers.

3 Responses to “A notable headline”

  1. Arne Adolfsen Says:

    I don’t find the headline hard to understand, confusing, ambiguous, mysterious — pick one of those adjectives or suggest a different one! — in the slightest. It didn’t even slow me down when I read it since its meaning is utterly comprehensible to me.

  2. Walt Slocombe Says:

    One obvious “simpler” headline would be “Override vote on gasline veto not in sight.” But somehow that seems different — compare “no land in sight” with “land not in sight.” The former emphasizes the absence, a sense of bleakness, or so it sounds to me, while the latter is more neutral — even possibly implying “not in sight yet.”. (And presumably the news significance of the story is that people might well have expected an override vote before the session ended,.

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