10 November 2012


I love crash blossoms (newspaper headlines that are easily mis-parsed on first reading). Here is one I saw in today's BBC World News site:

At first, I thought flare-up was a verb, so the dead and injured in Gaza were being set on fire. It seems reasonable if the dead are being cremated, but it's a little bit gruesome if the injured are being subjected to the same treatment.

Of course, flare-up should be parsed as a noun, so in Gaza flare-up is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adverbial. This becomes apparent when you read the paragraph following the headline.

This headline is probably not really ambiguous, as flare-up would not be hyphenated if it were a verb. But never mind: I did mis-parse it initially.