Newspaper Headline English

News stand in Paddington, London – courtesy Wikipedia

Newspaper headlines make use of a great variety of less usual words, which can also make them harder to read by non-native speakers. Headlines also try to be ‘punny’ (making use of close synonyms or related words as a joke) and alliterative (using a string of words with the same initial letter or sound). They tend to use shorter words than normal, and often leave out unnecessary grammatical ‘extras’. All this makes headlines short and eye-catching (and less than easy to read). British newspapers also pander to the educational norms of their readers, and use vocabulary and references aimed at social classes. There is a world of difference between the style and content of UK newspapers The Times and The Sun, the former aimed at very well educated manager and diplomatic classes, the latter aimed at manual workers.

However, I wish to concentrate on the English language, not politics, so here is a collection of headlines with straight English ‘translations’ below.

PM cuts aid to strife victims.
Prime minister reduces  financial help to conflict victims.

MP to wed former wife.
Member of Parliament to re-marry his former wife.

Police vow to solve gems heist.
Police promise to solve jewel robbery.

New blasts threaten Middle East talks.
A new explosion puts Middle East negotiations in danger.

HRH in blaze drama.
A member of the royal family is involved in a fire.

Minister pledges to axe tunnel aid.
Minister promises to severely cut financial aid for tunnel.

Unions clash with oil giant over job cuts.
Unions argue with large oil company over lay-offs.

Teen in bid to row Atlantic.
A teenager attempts/tries to row across the Atlantic.

Minister ousted over tax ploy.
A minister is sacked/removed over tax tricks.

Met probes Internet banking fraud.
The Metropolitan Police investigate Internet banking fraud.

Poll shows curbs backed by public.
A public opinion survey reveals that spending cuts are supported by the people.

Witness plea over missing dog riddle.
Witnesses are being asked to come forward over a missing dog mystery.

Boss quits after books scam.
A manager resigns after financial books fraud.

Jobs boost after go-ahead for project.
Employment prospects improved after news of project approval.

There are, of course, many many more, and journalists are coining new ones every day in a bid the catch the reader’s eye. I hope that this short list will help you to decode the headlines.

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