There was this news headlines in the TV. Can somebody say if this is right English ?

"Leopard attacks farmer, found dead"

closed as off-topic by Nathan Tuggy, ColleenV, David Richerby, Varun Nair, M.A.R. Apr 8 '16 at 9:32

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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Apr 5 '16 at 7:15

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  • It is correct English. It is not, however, correct english. The former one is the language you are using. The latter one is the spin you put on the ball in billiards. "Leopard attacks farmer, found dead" is certainly not a spin you put on the ball in billiards. – ЯegDwight Apr 5 '16 at 7:15
  • 2
    Hard to believe ELU didn't just say this is "headlinese", rather than migrate it here for us to do. – user3169 Apr 6 '16 at 0:23
  • You can search on the tag "headlinese" to read a number of Q/A on this. – user3169 Apr 6 '16 at 0:24
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    I think it is ambiguous. Who is dead, the leopard or the farmer? – rogermue Apr 6 '16 at 20:44

In the context of headlines it is. Headline English tends to omit every word possible, and put a lot of meaning into commas. Ambiguity is accepted, perhaps even encouraged in an attempt to get the readers' attention.

There are compilations of some more extreme examples online, I suspect we've had similar questions here as well.

However if the farmer was killed, the comma is in the wrong place here, but if the farmer killed the leopard, "found dead" is odd. So presumably the farmer, when attacked, drove off the leopard without realising they fatally injured it in the process.

  • 2
    +1 for explaining that the ambiguity may be purposeful. Don't you want to stay tuned to find out if the man or the leopard is dead and resolve the mystery of the comma? The only reference to the headline I can find is this Roorkee: Leopard attacks farmer, later found dead, so we'll never know what the original was. – ColleenV Apr 6 '16 at 19:36
  • @ColleenV I think I need to ask over at ELU what clickbait was called in print. – Chris H Apr 6 '16 at 20:27
  • Apparently it's a come-on: english.stackexchange.com/q/296797/80039 – ColleenV Apr 6 '16 at 23:09
  • @ColleenV thank you. That seems familiar,but very dependent on context. – Chris H Apr 7 '16 at 5:52

It is correct for the context of a headline, and the style is often called "headlinese" which is characterised by omitting verbs and articles, and using present tense. This is all done to keep the character count low.

The result can become piles of nouns linked by an occasional verb, resulting in a particular type of syntatctic ambiguity called 'crash blossoms" after an infamous headline "Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms".