A grisly crash blossom

February 8, 2012

What would you do to escape prosecution?

Crash blossoms, as you may know, are headlines that can lead you up the garden path, semantically speaking.

Today’s Irish Times has a mild one. The word to, commonly used in headlines to indicate futurity (as in the example above), here inadvertently generates an alternative meaning in which the Dutch TV presenters ate human flesh in order to escape prosecution.

It’s a wild idea.

The headline is unlikely to be misunderstood, but it has the potential to cause a momentary miscue — replacing to with will would avoid it — and it is grammatically interesting.

There are more crash blossoms here, at Language Log (including the recent gem “Does Donald Trump support matter?”), and on the Crash Blossoms blog.

The Cannibals of Galway

July 24, 2009

At the risk of sensationalising this blog beyond the bounds of credibility – if I ever had any in the first place – this sign was too good to miss. It’s behind a hot-food counter in a supermarket in Galway. Readers of a nervous disposition are advised to look away quickly, before their eyes are drawn to the blood-red sign now only centimetres away…


Stan Carey - cooked hand sign in Dunnes Stores


If you are deeply disturbed by the sinister implications, both corporate and gustatory, imagine my shock as I reeled out of the supermarket, my mind awhirl with the grisliest of possibilities, only to come upon this terrible scene at the docks, mere minutes away (click to enlarge):


Stan Carey - skulls in boat in The Docks, Galway


If I had any doubt, after seeing the contents of the boat, that something gruesome and unspeakable was afoot, it was dispelled by those dark threatening clouds. Even as the sun sparkled on the water in the port, the ominous shapes overhead portended doom and dread. But what does it all mean? Where is Nancy Drew when you need her? And what’s that strange scratching noise coming from next door?