Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Fun with headlines.

Still slogging through the THESIS like tap-dancing through molasses, but I just had to post about this one. I fired up my browser this morning to read the news and my eyeballs tripped over this headline in the New York Times: "Female Briton Feared the Worst in Iran."

Friends, this is horrible English. When I was a kid and my Mom proofread the stuff that I wrote, one lesson she drilled into my head repeatedly was that ambiguity is bad. Unclear sentences are the writer's archenemy, because any time a sentence makes a reader pause and say, "Wait – What?", the reader stumbles out of the writer's carefully-constructed world. Suspension of disbelief is shot. True, this ambiguous headline actually got me to click on the story, but only because I wanted to know what the worst-feared Briton in Iran looked like. Thirty feet tall! Eyes that shot fire! Razor-sharp claws and teeth like flaying knives! RUN! IT'S THE WORST-FEARED BRITON IN IRAN!

Ahem. Yeah. The headline writer for the Times needs to have a little sit-down with his editor.


Very funny, and yet so true! I wonder what she looked like as well. I am going for 60 foot Amazon, 'cause they are hot. Ok, the Amazon women were not really British, but how about Rose from Dr. Who?

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