Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Brain taser

Today's contribution to the expanding crash blossom collection, from the Wall Street Journal:

Philly Police Back
Tasering Officer


At first reading I really did take it to mean that the Philly police were in favor of tasering one of their number -- as an initiation rite? A punishment? (It's amazing how quickly the mind processes the absurd possibilities.) Another, less plausible reading: The police are now back at their task of tasering an officer (after taking a break).

Of course, what the police really back is yesterday's tasering BY a police officer of the kid who ran onto the Phillies ballfield during the game. (And yes, "Tasering by Officer" would have fit.)

9 comments:

tudza said...

If it makes you feel any better, the officer involved probably got shot with a taser as part of his training to use the weapon.

Galadriel said...

Tasering officers isn't implausible. Many police depts require that if an officer is going to carry a taser, s/he has to experience it first.

Stan said...

This one packs a lot of possibilities into a short phrase! Even though the second misreading you propose ("The police are now back at their task...") is the least plausible, it sounds the most normal, prose-wise, at least to my ears. "Back" meaning "support" is such headlinese.

Jan said...

Thanks, tudza and Galadriel -- I did think of the officer-training option after I posted ... so that makes four possible readings, or maybe three and a half, depending on the reader's familiarity with training procedures.

e said...

I thought there was a shorter verb "to tase". Useful for headlines, I would think.

Editors Back Forming Verb

The Wash Pond Navigator said...

I'm surprised to see no one commenting on the verbification (in a couple of forms) of "TASER" which is itself an acronymization based on an eponymization of a fictional technology.

e(mpty) said...

Whaddaya mean, no one? Am I chopped liver? All right, I didn't make whatever comment you were going to make, but what's your comment?

And can you explain the part about the "eponymization"?

The Wash Pond Navigator said...

Golly e, profuse apologies, I misunderstood your comment (perhaps my tongue in my cheek obscured my verbal vision).

TASER is an eponym; its inventors named it after Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle (Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, "Victor Appleton", 1911).

The Wash Pond Navigator said...

(and yes I realize TASER isn't strictly an eponym)