Obama rejects G20 pressure to abandon Syria air strike plan.

I think this news headline is ambiguous because the infinitive clause could attach to either G20's pressure as its complement(?), or to Obama, in which case it would have the sense of in order to.

Can you suggest a fix that eliminates the ambiguity?

  • 4
    It's a headline; they're rarely shining examples of perfect sentences. They're usually cut short and written to catch your eye. If a headline reads as ambiguous, reading the article should clear up the confusion. :) – WendiKidd Sep 8 '13 at 14:42

One way to fix the ambiguity while keeping it short would be:

Obama rejects G20 pressure; will not abandon Syria air strike plan

I think it's pretty clear that this is the meaning.

  • 1
    that's a nice way to rephrase. +1 – aarbee Sep 8 '13 at 19:54

Edit after Andrew Leach's comment: "Obama ignores G20; attack on Syria still possible"

A fix can be: Obama snubs G20; attack on Syria very likely

  • That is not equivalent. The original says Obama has not abandoned a plan, your fix says an attack is likely. Also, the original does not say he snubbed them - your fix indicates more hostility to G20 than the original does. – Peter Flom Sep 8 '13 at 19:49
  • But if he hasn't abandoned the plan to attack, doesn't that mean that attack is likely? – aarbee Sep 8 '13 at 19:54
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    Not necessarily. "Not abandoning" is more ambiguous than "is very likely". – Peter Flom Sep 8 '13 at 19:57
  • Maybe you are right. – aarbee Sep 8 '13 at 20:07
  • 1
    You might tone it down with "Obama ignores G20; attack on Syria still possible," but that still places an interpretation on the headline which might not be justified. – Andrew Leach Sep 8 '13 at 22:58

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