Sunday, April 14, 2013

Syntax, Grammar, Punctuation, and Getting Your Meaning Across

I do not watch late-night television.  The only thing I am checking at midnight is my eyelids for cracks.  But I do remember seeing a few late-night shows where the host would show newspaper story headlines that were not properly written to convey the correct message.

Instead, some were absolutely hilarious.  'Police Begin Campaign to run down Jaywalkers' or 'Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft '.

Others make you go 'duh' and wonder if anyone actually read the story before it was printed.  'Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash' or 'Enfield Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide'.

Whilst reading my morning paper, I saw the following headline: Romeo woman, 102, dies after 83-year marriage.  Guys, you don't die 'after' a marriage.  (OK.  Maybe the stress was enough to do it to someone, just not in this case.)

Your headline makes it appear that, perhaps, the marriage was the cause of death.  You die after an accident or having a heart attack.  A 102-year old woman died.  She was married 83-years.  Her husband is still living.

I know it is a small thing.  I know that newspapers have cut back on staffing.  But I can't tell you how many times I am sitting here, reading my paper (which is what I would be doing right now if only the newspaper person had delivered it), and trying to figure out what the writer was trying to say.  Words are out of place or the punctuation is so garbled that you have to diagram the words to make sense of it.  And then you have to throw a few words and commas out. 

I have a cute little book called 'Eats, Shoots, and Leaves'.  It is all about punctuation.  It is a very entertaining read.

As part of the A - Z Challenge this month, I have discovered many writers.  I have had no trouble making sense of what they write.  I wish I could say the same for the professionals getting paid to do it in the press, whether online or in print.

And speaking of the challenge, if you need a little humor, you might want to check out 'Ermie on the Run'.  Go back to the start of the month to follow her adventure.  I am sure you will enjoy it.

For more funny headlines, check out this site.

Now, I will go out to the curb and check my paper box - Again.  (If there is something wrong with this post, please remember that I am not a professional writer.)


  1. My husband just shakes his head over the oddities in our local paper's headlines - and caption.s

  2. My husband just shakes his head over the oddities in our local paper's headlines - and caption.s

  3. I think the concept of proofreading is gone, let alone actually doing it. I will stop by Ermie's. Hope you're having a good weekend and the snow melts quickly.

  4. Nice and informative post,keep sharing such stuff.


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