Saturday, May 24, 2008

She do?

From the Hed Grammar front:

Nope, can't do that with the quotes in American heds. It works in British heds, where those particular quote marks would be a way of noting something on the order of "it is asserted that ...":

164 ‘killed by Nazi fiend, 86’
A frail 86-year-old man has been accused of murdering 164 people in Nazi-occupied Slovakia during World War Two.

See? No relation to what people actually say, just acting as an "allegedly" marker.

Heds on our side of the ocean don't do that. In this example, which is pretty standard, we're trying to mark the word as Clinton's (the assumption behind why the quotes are needed is that we have no idea whether she "regrets" the incident or not; all we know is that she said she does). But the rules require her exact word(s). And she didn't say "I regrets that." She said (see Language Log for the sentence in its um-laden glory and a recap of how "sorry" works), or at least we're told she said: "I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive."

I'm still trying to figure out why this gaffe is worth playing above the fold on the front. The malign influence of the NYT frontpage budget could be at work again, and the Times seems to have been overly attentive to the world of cyberbabble. It certainly doesn't suggest that we're any closer to figuring out how to put substance over noise.


Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Wow. He was pretty spry - all the better to be fiendish when you're an octogenarian, I suppose.

11:17 PM, May 25, 2008  

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