Friday, April 28, 2006

Adventures in Journalism

Words are tricky things. You can't take your eyes off them for a minute.

In English, we have this habit of trimming the French and Latin endings off words we borrowed back in the Middle Ages. Those endings would have indicated whether a word was serving as a verb or a noun.

In speech, this doesn't matter, because we pronounce the words differently. PRO-duce is a noun, pro-DUCE is a verb. But you can't see that in writing. And since English (American English especially) has a habit of dragooning nouns into service as adjectives without even so much as a change of spelling, well, let's cut to the highlight film:

This headline was actually on the page in my newspaper the other night before an alert copy editor pointed out it could legitimately be read in an unintended way: