Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Confusion over crash blossoms linked to verblessness

This NYT headline is a bit of a crash blossom, I think:
British Anger Over Release of Man Linked to Bombs

This seems to be an instance of the principle that if one has a lone verb in a headline it ought to be the main verb: the psychology of crash blossoms has to do with one's natural tendency to parse sentences by identifying a verb to drape them around. (A nose, I feel, is an analogous organizing principle for a face.) It doesn't help that the "bad" reading, in which the (inexplicable) British anger over release of man is (ingeniously) linked (how?) to bombs, conforms exactly to one's expectations of public psychology. No one would give ex-cons a break during the Blitz.

PS "Linked" features in anomalously many crash blossoms, including the defining example of the genre, "Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms."

PPS The rain in Spain -- you can't explain that!

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