[Ads-l] WSJ: harder to catch the disease

dave at WILTON.NET dave at WILTON.NET
Sat Jan 16 08:06:08 EST 2021


Crash blossoms usually (always?) involve reanalysis of the sentence where a noun is read as a verb, or vice versa. So I don't think this is one. This is just confusion between two senses of the verb "to catch," 1) to be infected with a disease, and 2) to identify.

This is just bad writing, the kind of thing that happens when you fire all your copy editors.



-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of ADSGarson O'Toole
Sent: Friday, January 15, 2021 10:22 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: [ADS-L] WSJ: harder to catch the disease

An article in "The Wall Street Journal" on January 14th discussed deaths attributable to Covid19. The article contained the following
phrase: "Testing shortages made it harder to catch the disease early in the pandemic". A simple parse of this phrase would lead many readers to wonder why a testing shortage would make it harder to become infected with the coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

I believe that the authors meant to say: "Testing shortages made it harder to detect the presence of the disease early in the pandemic".
This ambiguity made me think of the colorful term applied to newspaper
headlines: "crash blossom". Would this be considered a "crash blossom"
or is there another vivid term?

Website: The Wall Street Journal
Article: The Covid-19 Death Toll Is Even Worse Than It Looks
Authors:  Paul Overberg, Jon Kamp and Daniel Michaels | Graphics by Lindsay Huth
Timestamp: Jan. 14, 2021 10:07 am ET

[Begin excerpt]
Testing shortages made it harder to catch the disease early in the pandemic, and some Covid-19 deaths may have been blamed on the flu and pneumonia instead, said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality-statistics branch at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
[End excerpt]

Garson

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