Ever scratch your head over a news headline and wonder what the heck the writer meant?
Take the classic picked up from Japan Today: “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms.” Dan Bloom, writing in an online language forum, suggested these mix-ups might be termed “crash blossoms.”
Usually, the confusion comes from the reader mistaking a noun for a verb, or vice versa. Years ago, The Guardian wrote: “British Left Waffles on Falklands.” Does that make you think of the islands littered with breakfast? Or an AOL head, “Gator Attacks Puzzle Experts.” Or (perhaps apocryphal), “MacArthur Flies Back to Front.”
The other day the Dayton Daily News stated, “Man Shot in Chest, Leg Knocks on Door for Help.” It must have been a coronary-inducing situation when the door was opened to find a leg knocking. But no, that’s not what the writer meant.
Tight writing is the holy grail of news writers. (“McDonald’s Fries the Holy Grail for Potato Farmers.”) But we writers all need to peer from under the green eyeshade to make sure we’re not writing, “Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge.”