April 13, 2004

Stick That in Your Parser and Stroke It

Geoff's example of a difficult-to-parse sports headline -- "Bonds Ties Mays" -- didn't actually strike me as the sort of thing most of us San Francisco Chronicle readers would have paused even a moment over. (After all, we've had a slot open for that header all week.) But it put me in mind of a genuinely parser-boggling headline that Peter Trudgill once mentioned to me. He was visiting Cleveland and saw this on the sports page of the Plain Dealer:


Peter said he took the page back with him to England and posted it on the door of his office, challenging the students in the linguistics program to decipher it (or even confidently identify the verb). He told me he had no takers.

Posted by Geoff Nunberg at April 13, 2004 08:39 PM