Friday, May 04, 2007

Who borrowed my car key?

One problem with writing too many heds (and with hanging around other people who write too many heds, which otherwise is a Good Thing) is forgetting how strange hedspeak can sound to outsiders. As in this from the crosstown competition:

Borrowed car key in trial’s second day

We get so used to "key" as the three-count version of "pretty big deal," and to leaving out auxiliaries, that it's easy to forget that "car key" already means something.

Oddly, or perhaps reassuringly, it works far better in print than it does online, and the reason is that annoying stuff about hed phrasing that everybody nods along with in J4400 and then forgets as soon as the first real desk shift begins. If you try to keep related stuff on the same line, you increase the chance that people coming cold to your deathless prose will read "borrowed car," rather than "borrowed car key," as the noun phrase.


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