Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bulk of pedestrians killed jaywalkers!?!?

Check out this news headline. It's amazing to imagine a bulk of pedestrians have gone berserk and went around killing jaywalkers. This headline sounded more like a direct translation from an article of the "My Paper" Mandarin edition.

We've always been urged by the government to speak proper English. I don't speak perfect English but in a city where Singlish is often banned on national TV, I don't understand how did the editor manage to get this published. A word of advice to "My Paper": If it is so hard being a bilingual newspaper, don't hard hard come.


Anonymous said...

While your interpretation is valid, note that we are in the context of a headline, and headlines operate in a completely different grammar.

The meaning of the headline is "The bulk of pedestrians who were killed were jaywalkers". With headlines, you drop definite articles (the), and auxiliary verbs (were), leaving you with exactly "Bulk of pedestrians killed jaywalkers".

While I'm not much enthusiastic about the local press, don't be so harsh also lar! :)

Louis Tan said...

Err. Isn't this technically accurate, if somewhat ambiguous?

jun said...

as a linguistics student i must say this isn't bad english or singlish at all. it's just a headline which happens to have a double entendre:

1. the bulk of pedestrians killed are jaywalkers
2. the bulk of pedestrians killed jaywalkers

i personally feel that the second meaning was unintended, since headlines often minus auxiliary verbs, and to call it 'a direct translation from an article of the "My Paper" Mandarin edition' is frankly ridiculous.

KH said...

Oh...bulk of pedestrians killed -> jaywalkers

Thanks for the explanation...I didn't get it at first.

Rambling Alcoholic said...

Bulk of jaywalkers killed are pedestrians?

someone said...


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They will be able to help!

Anonymous said...

For a newspaper headline, as long as it gives readers an impression of ambiguity, it is bad headline, linguistically correct or not.

Sam said...

anonymous - not true.
headlines are OFTEN ambiguous. its primary aim is to grab attention. Their ambiguity, sometimes to the point of exaggeration, are often intentional.

Anonymous said...

Aren't all jaywalkers pedestrians in the first place? You mean there are non-pedestrians jaywalkers?!

I think there still a typo in the headling. It should have been "Bulk of pedestrians killed jaywalking" or "Bulk of pedestrians killed: jaywalkers".

Sometimes all you need is a punctuation mark.

@anon said...

All jaywalkers are pedestrians, but not the other way around.

That's where the significance in the article lies, imo.