the imparseable dream

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 27 15:16:05 UTC 2009

At 10:57 AM -0400 4/27/09, Mark Mandel wrote:
>... or at least the imparseable headline. What do you make of this one?
>     "Advocate happy credit-card companies called on the White House carpet"
>I banged that around in my head for something like half a minute before
>giving up and looking at the article. Is "advocate" a noun or a verb? Are
>the credit-card companies happy? Are we to advocate that they be called on
>the W.H. carpet?
>The best I could come up with was inserting another hyphen: "Advocate-happy
>credit-card companies called on the White House carpet", i.e., "President
>scolds redit-card companies that make excessive use of advocates", where
>"advocates" refers to ... lobbyists? fake "satisfied customers" who are paid
>for endorsements, or who are not customers at all but actors? something else

Nice one.  FWIW, I read it the same way, and wondered since when do
credit card companies have in-house consumer advocates?  And why
would the White House (at least *this* White House) be especially
upset at this practice?  Or, alternatively, whether the reference was
just to those credit card companies that employ lots of lawyers--to
sue recalcitrant debtors?


>But no. It's a combination of standard headlinese shortcuts, deleting
>copula, complementizer, auxiliaries, and of course determiner (but not in
>the idiom "call __ on *the* carpet"): AN advocate IS happy THAT credit-card
>companies HAVE BEEN called on the White House carpet. The advocate referred
>to is a consumer advocate.
>Kathleen Keest cheered quietly last week as an issue she has toiled on for
>decades - unfair practices by the credit-card industry - finally made it to
>center stage in the grand theater of U.S. politics.
>President Obama had invited card-company executives to the White House to
>discuss legislation he supports that would crack down on practices such as
>tricky fine print and sudden, retroactive changes in interest rates.
>"The days of any-time, any-reason rate hikes and late-fee traps have to
>end," Obama said after meeting with the executives, whose companies include
>banks such as Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase that have received billions of
>dollars in federal bailout funds.
>Mark Mandel
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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