Knocking the legend of the knocking leg end

The dubious award for crash blossom of the week (last week) goes to this disembodied doozy from the Dayton Daily News: “Man shot in chest, leg knocks on door for help”.

Without wishing to make light of the man’s plight, I suppose that when you’re out on a limb without a leg to stand on, you (k)need all the help you can get. But you won’t get it from those perennially troublesome headline commas.

Note the URL‘s unambiguous “and” (…chest_and_leg_knoc.html), which was probably in the original line but got replaced in the conversion to headlinese — with ridiculous results.

Thanks to John E. McIntyre for bringing the story to my attention.

12 Responses to Knocking the legend of the knocking leg end

  1. Leaving out the clarifying “and” in the headline just seems bizarre here, doesn’t it? Why not just “victim of shooting knocks [etc.]” I sometimes wonder if these clumsy headlines aren’t deliberate…

  2. Stan says:

    Doubtful: I’ve wondered the same thing myself on occasion. It seems plausible, though, that someone who frequently composes or edits headlines could become inured to their potential for ambiguity and obscurity.

  3. Sean Jeating says:

    Ha ha ha, priceless! This knocking leg is the cherry on this laughing Lhursday.

  4. Stan says:

    Sean: That simple ill-judged comma shows how much of comedy, even inadvertent comedy, lies in the timing of its delivery. Just the thing for Laughing Lhursday!

  5. American sub editors seem to like that sort of headline. For me it just jars

    Still if he was shot in the leg he must have been hopping mad about it,,,,

  6. Stan says:

    He probably was, Jams! I think crash blossoms are very much a global phenomenon, or at least they are apt to appear wherever English is spoken and compressed into newspaper headlines. The BBC website can be a good spot for cryptic concision.

  7. Claudia says:

    I’m really relieved that this is a lot more laughable than someone calling a Forest Bulb:Venus! (see:Omnium’s Seanstronomy and last post:Feb.18-2010.)

  8. Fran says:

    .. and then it says ‘in critical condition’ in the article. This isn’t right, is it? Don’t they need the article? I think the person who put this piece together needs to knock on someone’s door for help him/herself.

  9. Stan says:

    Claudia: More laughable, maybe, but somehow less amusing than Omnium’s mysterious non-orbiting orb.

    Fran: You might be right. The victim’s condition was described first as “non-life threatening” (threatening to non-life?), but deteriorated after he was brought to hospital. I wonder if someone somewhere shot himself in the foot.

  10. wisewebwoman says:

    I’m still gobsmacked at the fact he ‘ran’ for help. Full of bullets.
    And still able to pound.

  11. Stan says:

    WWW: Remarkable indeed, but then people are capable of extraordinary feats in emergencies. A surge in adrenaline probably inhibited his perception of pain, and the survival instinct is a powerful, primal force.

  12. […] Last month we had a news story whose headline suggested it was about a disembodied leg that knocked on a door for help. Following in its frisky footsteps comes a disarming report about a […]

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