A Brokavian crash blossom

… committed by The Onion recently (hat tip to Jerry Zee):

(#1)

The line division really leads us to start by reading So Many Women as the direct object of Touched:

Tom Brokaw Touched So Many Women

(so that we expect a following result clause in that). But as Instagram commenters quickly noticed, we’ve been led down the garden path:

(#2)

(It’s common for commenters to pick up on features of examples that are irrelevant to the point at hand — here, the non-clausemate reflexive himself and the discursive would go out of their way.)

From┬áBen Zimmer on LLog, on 8/26/09, “Crash blossoms”:┬áChris Waigl … describes “crash blossoms” as “those train wrecks of newspaper headlines that lead us down the garden path to end up against a wall, scratching our head and wondering what on earth the subeditor might possibly have been thinking.”

(Crash blossoms are headlines that invite garden pathing, a form of premature closure in parsing that reveals a temporary ambiguity in the unfolding sentence.)

One Response to “A Brokavian crash blossom”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I’m just sitting here admiring the adjective <Brokavian. (Not a candidate for the oldest language, i suppose.)

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