English is my third language, but even now I recall teachers at St. Paul’s High School in Karachi, Pakistan, teaching us to be careful in stringing words together. One of my favorite songs, Stairway To Heaven says something about how “sometimes words have two meanings”. But, sentence structure can have even more impact.
But, all too often, we see news stories, especially headlines, that can mean the opposite of what the writer intended. And, most often, they are not deliberate puns. I am sure I am guilty of such errors too.
Today’s daily email from the Palm Beach Post in my Inbox is amusing.
Armored-car worker shot at bank near West Palm
Attempted robbery happened this morning Wachovia Bank on Okeechobee Boulevard.
View map of bank | More crime news
First of all, the way it is written, the text suggests that the armored car worker, an armed guard usually, is the one who shot at the bank building or something related to the bank.
Secondly, the sub-heading does not continue logically from the headline itself. For example, it could have conveyed the same information, but tied to the headline by saying something like this, “Shot by bandits during morning robbery at Okeechobee Wachovia Bank” – even using terse verbiage for space-saving reasons.
But, what I find amusing about this reporting is how conveniently the “More crime news” link is placed right next to “View map of the bank”… the better to help the next set of bank robbers plan their getaway perhaps!