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24 January 2012

Crash blossoms continue to bloom

In Language Log, I came across the term 'crash blossoms' - a new and delightful term for those garden path sentences that lead the reader down one track then suddenly force a reappraisal and a rereading.  We find them a lot in headlines: "Experts: skeptical US drone shot down;" "Woman Better after Being Thrown from High-rise," "Milk Drinkers Turn to Powder."

(In the New York Times column 'On Language', one of the Language Log authors explains where the term came from, and gives some hilarious examples.)

Crash blossoms even have their own blog: Crash Blossoms >> Headlines gone wrong.

And crash blossoms are alive and well in New Zealand, today's Stuff giving us "Education costs a stretch"  (and how parents wish that a stretch was all it cost), while the New Zealand Herald tells us that "Bikes bring more money than wood from Rotorua forest" (I thought they used logging trucks).


  1. It's not actually a crash blossom - or is it? - but this is a headline about a fish-eating contest. Fyfe lost a tooth. Sven, the winner, was sick. The headline won prizes

    "One tooth free for Fyfe. Sick Sven ate nine tench"

  2. I was quite taken with 'Cyber criminals launch underground search engine' and 'Woman drives 100km without kids'.

  3. On Facebook, one of my friends offered: "Keep out of reach of children" - excellent advice, but not always easy for parents to follow.