Wednesday 23 January 2019

A grammatically incorrect newspaper headline is showing just how important hyphens can be

An innocent headline, ruined.

A stack of newspapers
A stack of newspapers

By Kameron Virk

Newspaper sub-editors have a tough job.

Reading thousands of words a day – and knowing that missing just one thing can completely flip the meaning of a story – is undoubtedly high-pressure stuff.

So when looking at the below headline, allow yourself to feel a smidgen of sympathy for the person at The Pratt Tribune who looked over this article before giving it the all-clear.

That’s quite an unfortunate error from the Kansas tri-weekly paper, and is an example of some rogue grammar turning a harmless story into something it really wasn’t supposed to be.

In American English, “first hand” should’ve been “firsthand” – while in Britain “first-hand” would’ve been used to avoid the very NSFW headline.

The error is providing a lot of laughs.

So at least something good came out of it.

Press Association

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