or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Off Topic

Last month there was a dreadful train accident here in Moncton: as I understand it, a man and his girlfriend--whom I know--were walking his dog, the dog ran onto a train trestle, the man ran to get it, and unfortunately, as Jim (whose father worked for CN Rail all his life) frequently says, "Any time is train time."

The body was thrown by the force of the train into a tributary of the Petitcodiac River, which, being part of the Bay of Fundy, has enormously powerful tides, and as a result, it was found only a couple of days ago. (I'm a little surprised that the body was ever found at all.)

What has this to do with my usual line? Only this: the news story was headlined

Body found in Moncton-area stream that off man who was hit by train

and I stared at the damned thing for some seconds, trying to make some sense of it. "That off man?" "Off man?" "What?"

Finally Jim said, "Of."


"It's not off, it's of."

Of course it is! Makes perfect sense. "[The] body [was] that of [the] man who was hit by the train".

Shame on whatever editor okayed this story. News headlines are not supposed to force you to reexamine everything you thought you knew about English grammar in a miserable attempt to understand them.


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