Adjectives in headlines [was: ire: n,v,a,adv,?]

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Jan 4 23:51:50 UTC 2007

At 1/4/2007 05:51 PM, Michael H Covarrubias wrote:
>Forgive the possible repetition.
>I remember some discussion of "ire" as a transitive verb.  The use
>is supported
>by the OED though it's called obsolete and rare.  And one quotation
>is all it earns.
>c1420 Pallad. on Husb. II. 361 Her brethron & her owne kynde hit
>ireth [L. irritat].
>A recent AP headline reads
>"Italy ire over kids seeing 'Apocalypto'"
>What use of 'ire' is this?  If it is a noun (as in "there is ire in Italy") I
>would expect the modifyer to be "Italian".  I would expect a coined participle
>to be "ired". I can't (in good conscience) parse any non-transitive
>verb sense.
>I raise my hand feebly to vote for the noun-sense (nonsense?).

This has nothing to do with "ire".  Rather, the explanation is that
newspaper headline style uses nouns for country-names instead of the
adjectives one would expect in normal text.  (I can only guess, to
reserve the adjective for the people of the country--which of course
is a confusion of adjective with noun.)  So this should be read as
the noun-phrase "Ital[ian] ire over kids seeing 'Apocalypto'".

Reflect on the following image (NYTimes, August 25, 1994):

China Cabinet Orders a Drive Against Inflation
Bejing, Aug. 24 (Reuters)--The Cabinet ordered a new drive against
inflation today ...

(Presumably a kitchen cabinet uprising against rising food prices.)

See the ADS-L archives for my "Adjectives vs. nouns in headlines",
June 22, 2005 -- to which there was never any response.

My personal favorite such headline (although I haven't seen it in the
flesh yet--but one can perhaps rely on continued inflation of
tensions in the Middle East) would be:

"Turkey Army invades Greece".

Especially at Thanksgiving time, more appetizing than the other way around.


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