Tuesday, September 02, 2014

You keep using that word

I think we just need to put this one to a poll: What does the hed mean, and where do you live? It might be more fun to answer before you read on, but who knows?

This is a Drudge hed, and thus it's as American as complaining that Michelle Obama took your French fries, but it follows British headline rules. We can't pull a word that far to the front of a hed, but they can -- in this case, a prepositional phrase modifying the direct object in a relative clause inside another relative clause. ("Naked hacker" means something like "man suspected of being the hacker who stole photos of naked celebrities.")

So which reading did you get? Is the hacker naked, or is he the dog who chased the cat who ate the rat who downloaded the naked celebrity pictures over the wireless in the house that Jack built?


Anonymous Ed Latham said...

I got the British reading but only after a third take. The position of the adjective isn't the only problem - it's also the distance that the transferred epithet has travelled. It's not the hacker that's naked, nor the hacking, nor (in the strict literal sense) even the photos - it was the celebrities. That's probably a journey too far even for British readers. There's a difference between 'nude pic row vicar' and 'nude vicar'.

9:58 AM, September 03, 2014  

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