Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Verbal noun mash-up dazes headline reader

Quick: decode this WSJ headline:
New Breast Screening Limits Face Reversal
A headline as dense as my compost heap! Am I confused because references to body parts distract the attention, or because the headline strings together four words in a row that are either verbs or verbal nouns (five, if you count "breast," as in "breast the waves"), or because "facing a reversal" is inherently paradoxical, or because after reading the apparent subject phrase "new breast screening" it's very difficult not to read "limits" as a verb (rather than as the completion of the subject phrase)?
I'd have to say my confusion is overdetermined.

P.S. the political backlash to the public health finding that women in their forties don't need yearly mammograms is a perfect microcosm of the dysfunctions of both our political and health care systems.

More on this score:
From what planet comes this one?
Verbal noun mashup dazes headline reader
Newspaper taxes readers' decoding chops
Five noun run spurs brain freeze

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