HEADLINE MADE READER STRUGGLE.

My wife took this the way it was intended, so I guess it’s not as bad as I first thought, but when I saw the NY Times headline:
Some Made Men Struggle to Make Ends Meet
I took made as a transitive verb and read it as “Some [people] made [=forced] men struggle to make ends meet”; I assumed it was about exploitative bosses or the like. Turns out it’s about “made men,” i.e. mobsters, having economic problems. Bad headline writer! No biscuit!

Comments

  1. I caught it on an immediate re-read. Quotes or italics or something would have solved the problem.
    The bigger question is: what’s the story with article? Does the NY Times write about crack dealers who suffer reversals, or pimps with human resources challenges?

  2. I caught it on an immediate re-read. Quotes or italics or something would have solved the problem.
    The bigger question is: what’s the story with article? Does the NY Times write about crack dealers who suffer reversals, or pimps with human resources challenges?

  3. I didn’t know ‘made men’ meant mobsters. Self made men used to mean entrepreneurs, right?
    The Fortean Times has Extra! Extra! every month, a list of ill considered headlines.
    “Professor dies, leaves mark”
    “Dead are advised to move Quickly”
    Etc. No biscuits for any of them.

  4. AP addition for the “No biscuits!” collection.

  5. I love it!

  6. “Crime doesn’t pay”, “Wise guys need pay rise”, “No lobsters for mobsters” (?)
    I’m sure the language hat posse can do better.

  7. I read it as “made men” – but I work for an Italian family. Er, Family.

  8. michael farris says:

    I think a hyphen would have made all the difference:
    Some Made-men Struggle to Make Ends Meet
    Made man (or Made men) seems a little like the kind of compound that most germanic languages would write as one word though I stress the last word which makes it more like an adjective + noun
    I read it right the first time, probably because of the alert that it was confusing. I don’t know how I would have read without being forewarned.

  9. Once I got past misreading it as “Some Men Made […],” I understood it perfectly.

  10. This midwesterner got it immediately.
    Then again, I read a lot of crime novels….

  11. I’m reading The Bostonians by Henry James, and just this morning I came across the word “underfed”. I read it however as “un-derfed” and spent a decent while wondering what “derfed” meant.
    Thankfully it wasn’t a Joyce work, or I would have probably thought it was a Joycean invention.
    But a couple of pages later, I read something like:
    “he knew no ladies, drank much beer, and was familiar with an actress”
    Knew no ladies and was familiar with an actress? What?
    Then I remembered when the book was written.

  12. Made man (or Made men) seems a little like the kind of compound that most germanic languages would write as one word though I stress the last word which makes it more like an adjective + noun
    I think everybody stresses the last word, which means it is in fact an adjective + noun, so you can’t write it as one word. I guess “goombahs” would have been beneath the Times‘ dignity.
    I came across the word “underfed”. I read it however as “un-derfed” and spent a decent while wondering what “derfed” meant.
    When I was a kid I thought bedraggled was “bed-raggled” and bedridden was the past participle of a verb “bedride”—ah, the joys of morphology!

  13. marie-lucie says:

    “made men” was totally new to me – at first I thought it meant “self-made men” (men who rose in society by their own talents and activities rather than through being born and raised in a higher class) until I read the article. Would “made men” refer to those who became rich through illegal activities, as opposed to “self-made men”?
    “made men” is apparently a translation from Italian. In French, “un homme fait” is a physically mature man – let’s say over 30 or 35 yrs old (similarly for “une femme faite”) and usually also implies a socially mature person who has achieved a stable adult personality and place in society. Does that ring a bell with Italian?
    Re English be- verbs: not too long ago I was looking at a book on bears in which the authors quoted some of the English vocabulary etymologically associated with bears (brown, bruin, etc), including “berate”! I had never thought that the word could be interpreted as anything else than be-rate, as in be-come, be-have, be-lieve etc – in many if not most of these words the meaning is not obviously related to the meaning of the root (assuming that the latter still exists), and be-rate is no exception. Has anyone thought of, or run into the same misinterpretation of “berate” as bear-ate (as in calcul-ate)?

  14. I caught it on the first read-through, presumably because I’m so gritty and noir. It could be clearer, though, certainly. I would suggest “Wise guys unwise finance-wise.”

  15. Andrew Dunbar says:

    There is a decent Wikipedia article on made men.

  16. David Marjanovi? says:

    Made man (or Made men) seems a little like the kind of compound that most germanic languages would write as one word though I stress the last word which makes it more like an adjective + noun
    No, German writes gemachte Männer (…which would be a rare expression meaning, I think, “men who won’t ever have financial problems anymore”). What makes such examples in English so hard to understand is that the past tense and the past participle are identical for regular verbs, unique within Standard Average European and, frankly, a bad idea.

  17. Ginger Yellow says:

    I got it first time, partly because I’m a big fan of Scorsese films and the Sopranos, and partly because no headline with “some” as the subject should ever get past the subs.

  18. Reminds me of another newspaper headline, which I first took to be clairvoyant: “Mother to be killed in Glasgow” (lacking hyphens, of course).

  19. Doug Sundseth says:

    The discussion of “berate” reminded me of “behave”.
    Mother: “Behave!”
    Child: “But Mom, I’m being hāv.”

Speak Your Mind

*