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Richard Lederer: Another of My Heroes

In my newspaper days, the Columbia Journalism Review would publish actual headlines that were unintentionally funny. Many were compiled for a book, Correct Me If I’m Wrong: Press Bloopers As Seen in the Newseum. It’s available on A favorite: “Marijuana Issue Sent to Joint Committee.”

Now, I have discovered Richard Lederer, who has written a series of books that cover all sorts of bad writing. In his 1987 book Anguished English: An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language, Lederer lists more headlines that if read one way are correct but if read another way aren’t.

Here are 12 of my favorites (and my attempts at humor to illustrate the incorrect reading):

British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands (but they took the pancakes)

Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms (men mushrooms, however, not affected)

Eye Drops Off Shelf (must have been a glass eye)

Teacher Strikes Idle Kids (that will teach those kids to be idle!)

Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim (obviously revenge for “man bites dog”)

Lawyers Give Poor Free Legal Advice (you get what you pay for)

Man Eating Piranha Mistakenly Sold as Pet Fish (proving that you can have a pet human)

Miners Refuse to Work After Death (they spent their entires lives working, after all)

Lawmen from Mexico Barbecue Guests (but no one remembered the KC Masterpiece)

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant (because rehabilitation didn’t work)

Stolen Painting Found By Tree (and tree demands reward)

Hitler, Nazi Papers Found in Attic (and you thought he died in his bunker)

Until next time! Use the right words!


September 23, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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