Archive for the ‘Headlines’ Category

Crash blossoming: Doctor Who as abortionist

November 5, 2022

A headline sighting reported on Facebook yesterday

— Wendy Thrash:
(#1)

— AZ > WT: A lovely garden-path example (as they are known in the trade) — made worse by the line break in your posting (Doctor Who / Performed Abortion …)

Newspaper headlines, with their compressed, trimmed-down format, make a rich ground for garden pathing; garden-path headlines are then some of the most remarkable specimens of the type — so remarkable that they’ve gotten their own label: crash blossoms (after an exemplary species).

I will explain.

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pit beef snow ball girl

March 28, 2022

The Zippy strip from yesterday, 3/27:


(#1) Help wanted at the pit beef restaurant: a female server for their pit beef (the house entrée) and snow balls (the dessert), with the ensuing mantra that afflicts Zippy: PIT BEEF SNOW BALL GIRL (prosodically SW SW S; add a strong fourth beat — a shout YEAH!,  a drum beat, cymbals, whatever — and you can conga to it)

So, the obvious stuff: Zippy’s onomatomania, his attraction to certain words and phrases; pit beef (especially associated with Baltimore); snow balls / snowballs, shaved ice confections especially associated with the Italian communities of Philadelphia and New York. Plus the gender stuff, a girl needed to serve guy-food: grilled meat, especially beef, being at the peak of masculinity in the American food world (with the gender association reinforced by serving it in a bun); not to mention that beef with balls is covertly phallic.

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Rent Spikes / Stoke Dread / By the Sea

January 19, 2020

That’s the head:

Rent Spikes
Stoke Dread
By the Sea

The subhead:

Coney Island Businesses
Fear Being Priced Out

The story is that increases in rents have promoted anxiety on the part of seaside business owners on Coney Island.

This from the national print edition of the NYT on the 15th (p. A19), story by Aaron Randle.

A story I have then playfully travestied:

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A Brokavian crash blossom

May 2, 2018

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

(#1)

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Briefly: a demented p.r. pitch, an off-the-rails headline

June 18, 2017

In the past few days, some tidbits from Facebook friends: from Margalit Fox, another demented p.r. pitch in her mail; from Jean Berko Gleason, an unfortunately ambiguous headline.

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WTF? headline omission

April 30, 2016

The original datum, from the SF Peninsula Daily Post for the April 30th weekend, on p. 1, printed here as a single line (rather than broken into three lines):

(1) Guard posted at crossing where woman killed

intended to convey something like

(1a) A guard has been posted at the crossing where a woman was killed

— where the omission in (1) of the underlined form of BE (in a subordinate passive clause) gave me an extended WTF? moment. Looking at parallel examples didn’t make me any happier. Maybe there are those for whom (1) and similar examples are unproblematic, but there is variation from speaker to speaker in all things, and in this case, (1) and its kin are problematic for me. Now, some background, then back to (1).

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The news for penises, issue #1 of 2016

January 5, 2016

A continuing series on this blog, with at least 9 postings before this under the heading  “The news for penises” (plus a great many other penis postings not under that heading). Four items that have come to me in the past few days: an ad for gay porn with some phonological play in it;  horse penises in Kyrgyzstan; beef whistle as a slang term for the penis; and the celebrated candiru fish of the Amazon.

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A notable headline

April 21, 2015

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.

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Two from BZ

February 10, 2015

I don’t usually pass on postings from other blogs, but on the 5th Ben Zimmer blogged two notable things on Language Log that are worth drawing attention to: one on an amazing headline from Bloomberg News and a death notice for Suzette Haden Elgin.

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Subjectless purpose adjunct

January 10, 2015

From a public service announcement on television about the closing of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend:

(1) The bridge is closing to install a moveable median barrier

I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this wording, which sounded danglerish to me (though its intent is clear). The version on the bridge’s site uses a subjectless nominalization (which is impeccable) rather than a subjectless purpose adjunct:

(2) Jan. 10-11, Golden Gate Bridge CLOSED for Installation of Moveable Median Barrier

My speculation is that subjectless purpose adjuncts (at least the sentence-final ones) are less obtrusive when they are more telegraphic in form, especially when they are framed as headlines; the idea is that readers are accustomed to supplying omitted material in headlines.

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