Ambiguous newspaper headlines



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Ambiguous newspaper headlines
Headlines frequently try to be clever. For example, a sports story might say New York Jets Run Out of Fuel. A headline must communicate a lot of information in a small space. The words need to be chosen carefully. Some words or phrases can be read more than one way, and in a joke, this is often intentional. The headlines which follow contain meanings definitely not intended by the writer. These actually appeared in newspapers. Your job is to figure out two things: What did the writer mean to say, and how else could the headline be interpreted.
For example: “Farmer Bill Dies in House

Actual meaning:

A proposed law has failed to survive the legislative process in the parliament (house).

Alternative interpretation: A farmer named Bill died.



  1. POLICE BEGIN CAMPAIGN TO RUN DOWN JAYWALKERS



  1. SAFETY EXPERTS SAY SCHOOL BUS PASSENGERS SHOULD BE BELTED



  1. DRUNK GETS NINE MONTHS IN VIOLIN CASE



  1. GIRL HIT BY CAR IN HOSPITAL



  1. IRAQI HEAD SEEKS ARMS



  1. LUNG CANCER IN WOMEN MUSHROOMS



  1. TEACHER STRIKES IDLE KIDS



  1. REAGAN WINS ON BUDGET, BUT MORE LIES AHEAD



  1. SQUAD HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM



  1. MINERS REFUSE TO WORK AFTER DEATH



  1. JUVENILE COURT TO TRY SHOOTING DEFENDANT



  1. STOLEN PAINTING FOUND BY TREE



  1. TWO SOVIET SHIPS COLLIDE, ONE DIES



  1. KILLER SENTENCED TO DIE FOR SECOND TIME IN 10 YEARS



  1. DRUNKEN DRIVERS PAID $1000 IN '84


Now write an ambiguous headline of your own and explain what is ambiguous about it.

Sources:

http://www.alta.asn.au/events/altss_w2003_proc/altss/courses/somers/headlines.htm

http://tlc.ousd.k12.ca.us/~acody/headlines.html

Ambiguous newspaper headlines - Keys


  1. POLICE BEGIN CAMPAIGN TO RUN DOWN JAYWALKERS


Actual meaning:

The police begin a campaign to find jaywalkers.
Alternative interpretation:

The Police begin a campaign to hit jaywalkers with cars.
Note: "Jaywalking" is a crime in which a pedestrian crosses the street in the middle of a city block rather that walking to the nearest corner first. Jaywalkers, obviously, are the people that commit this crime.


  1. SAFETY EXPERTS SAY SCHOOL BUS PASSENGERS SHOULD BE BELTED


Actual meaning:

Safety experts say that bus passengers should use seat belts (for safety).
Alternative interpretation:

Safety experts say that bus passengers should be hit with a belt.


  1. DRUNK GETS NINE MONTHS IN VIOLIN CASE


Actual meaning:

The drunken person who was accused of stealing a violin has been found guilty and will be jailed for nine months. (case = court case)
Alternative interpretation:

The drunken person will have to spend nine months in a violin case (container).


  1. GIRL HIT BY CAR IN HOSPITAL


Actual meaning:

The girl who was hit by a car is now in hospital.
Alternative interpretation:

A girl has been hit by a car in the hospital.


  1. IRAQI HEAD SEEKS ARMS


Actual meaning:

An Iraqi official or the Iraqi head of state is seeking weaponry.
Alternative interpretation:

An Iraqi head (part of the body) is seeking arms (part of the body).


  1. LUNG CANCER IN WOMEN MUSHROOMS


Actual meaning:

The number of cases of lung cancer in women is growing rapidly.
Alternative interpretation:

Female mushrooms have cancer!


  1. TEACHER STRIKES IDLE KIDS


Actual meaning:

Kids are idle because their teachers are participating in the strikes (protestations).

Alternative interpretation:

A teacher punishes kids who are idle (lazy)


  1. REAGAN WINS ON BUDGET, BUT MORE LIES AHEAD


Actual meaning:

More lies ahead could mean: “a lot (of events) are awaiting us in the future”
Alternative interpretation:

It could also mean: “many additional dishonesties(falsehoods) await us in the future”


  1. SQUAD HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM


Actual meaning:

The rescue squad helped a victim of dog bite.

Alternative interpretation:

The squad (gang) helped a dog to bite someone.


  1. MINERS REFUSE TO WORK AFTER DEATH


Actual meaning:

Miners refuse to work any further, following the death of a miner (at the mining site).

Alternative interpretation:

Miners refuse to work after (whose death? their own?) death.


  1. JUVENILE COURT TO TRY SHOOTING DEFENDANT


Actual meaning:

A person who is being accused of shooting someone will appear in court. (court trial)

Alternative interpretation:

The court will attempt at shooting (killing) the person who is being accused.


  1. STOLEN PAINTING FOUND BY TREE


Actual meaning:

A stolen painting has been found near a tree.

Alternative interpretation:

A painting was stolen, and therefore lost, however, a tree has found it.


  1. TWO SOVIET SHIPS COLLIDE, ONE DIES


Actual meaning:

Two soviet ships have collided, resulting in the death of one passenger.

Alternative interpretation:

Two soviet ships collided and one of the ships died. (completely destroyed?)


  1. KILLER SENTENCED TO DIE FOR SECOND TIME IN 10 YEARS


Actual meaning:

A killer has been punished with life sentence for the second time in 10 years.

Alternative interpretation:

A sentenced killer will die for the second time in 10 years.


  1. DRUNKEN DRIVERS PAID $1000 IN '84


Actual meaning:

In 1984, drunken drivers had to pay a fine of $1000.

Alternative interpretation:

Drunken drivers were paid $1000 in 1984.


http://www.alta.asn.au/events/altss_w2003_proc/altss/courses/somers/headlines.htm



Ambiguous headlines

No. of Lessons

1

Grade

2nd Gimnazija

Teachers

Mojca Fink and Amresh Prakash Torul

Objectives/

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to understand and explain ambiguous newspaper headlines.




Time

Teachers activities

Student activities

English teacher

Foreign teacher

15 min


Introduction:

Introduce the topic and briefly discuss it with students. What are ambiguous headlines and why are some headlines ambiguous?



Go through the handout with the students and explain the literal meaning of difficult words on the board.


Follow introduction and vocabulary explanation.



15 min

Move around the class and help students.


Move around the class and help students.




Work on handout:

Read and understand the 15 headlines and try to explain their meanings. Write down one ambiguous headline with explanation of the ambiguous word(s).



15 min

Explanation of ambiguous headlines:

Take turns to explain every other headline.



Explanation of ambiguous headlines:

Take turns to explain every other headline.



Correct handouts and take additional notes.






Evaluation

The students had a lot of fun with the double meanings of the headlines as some of them were truly humorous. Some headlines were quite hard for the students to understand. The vocabulary had to be explained and it helped to some extent. This lesson also highlighted the style of language used in newspaper headlines.





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