Long ago, when lost in translation, in E. Europe, I was a copy editor for a English Chinese business magazine. I’d get the articles and polish them and send them back. This was in the very early days of the internet. Part of my job was rewriting the headlines. The Chinese were good English writers and speakers but not native speakers! So often, I’d come upon a “screamer”.
Today, I put together this presentation for a syntax / semantics presentation I’ll be doing. However, besides English teachers, it could be a nice resource for high level English learners. Lots of problems with word order, double meaning, reference, ambiguity and pragamatics too (see Grice’s Maxims – these break quite a few!). Also, lots of semantic and semiotical nuiance in these….. Also, see on our Practice page many more. Like – I Saw The Sign and this one about funny signs found around the world – Broken English. Also “Silly Signs” and “Funny Billboards”
The best thing to do with these is to see if your students “get it”. If not, you might skip it, rather than explain it (like we do with jokes, never explain one!). However, if they see something there, you might get them to try and propose a correct headline…
Beyond everything, they are just absolutely funny. So don’t think too much, just enjoy. Just like we usually use language – without thought!