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06 August 2010 @ 11:11 am
Connotation / denotation / other stuff  
1. Headline: Missouri families grieve 2 slain in school buses wreck.

Comment: To me, "slain" has a connotation of deliberateness, more like murder, rather than accident. What say you all? Or was it simply a matter, since it's a headline, of choosing a word with five letters rather than six ("killed")?

2. Suppose you are in the USA and are on a road with five lanes: two in one direction, two in the opposite direction, and one in the middle available for left turns from either direction. This middle lane is typically double-striped: solid yellow on the outside and dashed yellow on the inside. What do you call that middle lane?

3. Masseuse: when did this become the word for male or female provider? I thought masseur was male, masseuse was female, and massage therapist was gender-neutral. Or is massage therapist only used for medical contexts, not for spas? Also, can you think of any other cases of the female form of a word subsuming the male form (as opposed to, say, actor/actress which is now commonly actor)?

4. "Gifted me with": when did this overtake "gave me"? And why? Am I wrong to think it sounds somewhat pretentious?
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Charlie Princeccprince on August 6th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
(My background -- managing editor of my college newspaper, responsible for all the typesetting, and for writing my share of headlines)

Lots of factors will go into writing a headline, from the space requirements (which go more into the widths of the letters, rather than the number of letters) to style (I don't remember what the guidelines were on multiple-sentence headlines, but they just look off to me) to timing ("I'm on deadline, that headline fits, and I've got thirty more to write. Good enough.").

As for "killed" vs. "slain," it might just be a matter of a slightly more "dramatic" headline, with exactly those connotations in mind.

(While I'm here, I call it a "left-turn lane," "gifting" should go the way of "taking away learnings." I have no opinion on what you call someone who gives a massage, except that I'd like one, please.)