Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mayor arrested after found nude

OK, the Log gang is first* to move the wonderful Reuters crash blossom "White House says bears part of blame for Senate loss" from the political blogs to the sphere of language. Rather than duplicating efforts, which I think is generally counterproductive (what are we supposed to do, lede with "headsuptheblog has confirmed that bears part of blame"?), let's try to advance the conversation: Is this feature a function of Reuters' being British at heart, as commenter Dan** suggests?

That's plausible, I think, because the only place I see that construction -- the complement clause with the elided subject (and, usually, the linking verb too) -- in American news language is at Fox, which not only has a lot of British corporate influence but lifts a lot of its best material from the British redtops and right-wing quality/qualoids. Here are a few Fox heds of that pattern:

Florida mayor arrested after found nude at campsite
Police chief retires after caught kissing female cop
Boy dies after dragged by own cow at Alaska fair
Pastor tried to fight off killer before throat slashed

Bonus points for noticing that the first one is flat wrong; the lede refers to a "former Gainesville mayor," but the Gainesville in question is the one in Georgia. Otherwise, it's the standard Fox menu -- nudity, official sex, and episodic gooey death -- cast in some foreign hed dialect. They're all AP stories, but the heds look Foxed; the AP heds available at Lexis are:

Former mayor in Georgia arrested for nudity
Video: Ohio police chief, cop kissed in cruiser
Coroner's report: Pastor had gashes to neck, chest

Transmarine readers, canst clarify? Do these constructions make sense on your side?

* The reader is referred to last month's discussion of the relevance of scoops*** online.
** Dan from TCE, is that you?
*** This term wasn't part of my dialect; we called them "beat" or "exclusive." Probably a generational thing.

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Anonymous Ed Latham said...

No, I'd say they sound odd to us too. On this side of the pond, we're very happy to pile up nouns on top of each other, but I don't think we ever do the same with verbs – certainly not the way it's done in the first example, 'says bears'. That construction is not only baffling, but, to my ears, slightly retro-Thirties-American as well: ("Sultan of Swat Nixes Deal, Says Unacceptable".)

And I don't think we'd be comfortable about omitting the various forms of 'to be' absent from the next examples. If they don't sound American either, I'd say there's something decidedly mid-Atlantic about them.

6:07 AM, January 21, 2010  

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