Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ambiguous Hookers & Psycho Sheep Wrestlers

'Tis the season for lists, and this one caught my eye: 50 Funniest Headlines Of 2009 (HT Daily Dish ). I expected more of them to be linguistically interesting, but few were. Instead, there are a lot of tasered grammas and schoolboy sex jokes. Nonetheless, there are a few whose humor lies in the linguistic structure of the headline. Personal fav: #9 Nutt faces sack. Here are the others by linguistic category

Lexical Ambiguity
#4. Hooker Named Lay Person Of The Year
#7. Pittsburgh Police Want To See Junk In Your Trunk
#23. Facebook Forms Board To Lick Molesters
#38. Courtney Love Banned From Using Hole
#44. Hooker Named Indoor Athlete Of The Year.

Garden Path
#6. Trooper Fired After Hat Fib Wants Back In

Pseudo-Garden Path
#31. Sheep Wrestlers Feared Psycho

#30. Church Kids Raid Panty's For Foodbank Supplies (note: bonus misuse of apostrophe).

#21. Winter Storm Closes Schools Across P.E.I., N.S


James D said...

I still think the best Garden Path of 2009 was that English local paper's "Headless Corpse Accused in Court" that was cited in the last Private Eye of the year.

Chris said...

Nice one. Requires a bit of re-reading, doesn't it.

Anonymous said...

The funniest headline that I found in 2009 was: "Americans concerned about heart health, but not proactive enough to prevent it",

Chris said...

outerhoard, this reminds me of my favorite linguistics joke:

George: Gracie, did you know that in America a man has a heart attack once every 40 seconds.

Gracie: Wow! Someone should help that guy!

Stan said...

Thanks for the link, Chris — I hadn't seen it. One of my favourites that's not on the list: "McDonald's fries the holy grail for potato farmers" — a headline the AP quickly rewrote, but not before it had been reproduced many times, to widespread amusement.

And a special mention for the Daily Mail's memorable "radioactive paedophile". Because we don't have enough to worry about.

Chris said...

Stan, great examples. I just recently learned that LL has termed this sort of this "crash blossoms." See here for their explanation.

Stan said...

Thanks Chris. It's a very apt term, I think, but there remains some debate over how broadly or precisely it's defined and understood. I wrote about crash blossoms myself a few months ago — here, if you'll indulge me linking to my own blog.

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