LanguEdge: Ungrammatical newspaper headlines


The ‘papers are splitting at the seams with ungrammatical headlines. ‘Six years later NCW can’t trace docus on harassment’ (should be ‘after’, and let’s not get started about the ridiculous shortening of ‘documents’ to ‘docus’; could even be misunderstood as ‘documentaries’), or ‘Two killed, four others injured’ (‘others’ redundant) are just two of the many examples from papers and the net.

These remind me of the language of a glares-flaunting, ever a-swagger reporter-colleague from way back in 1990 (who’s been in PR for several years now), who liked to use big words for effect, and who needed eagle-eyed subbing. While subbing a report he’d filed about a protest march in Mumbai, I stopped mid-sentence and asked him: “Hey Dogberry (name changed), was this protest march attended by a lot of pregnant women?” Because he’d written, “Several imminent people took part in the protest march.” Obviously, the word Mr Dogberry Malaprop needed was ’eminent’.

If you remember any similar examples, do share them.


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