Monday, 8 August 2011

Caption fail

The Daily Mail has a story today about a Hollyoaks actress who learnt sign language after her father, who was deaf, died. It's a nice story, she wanted to help others who suffered as he did from being unable to communicate easily, so she qualified as a BSL interpreter.

But the caption under the photo is bizarre:
Handy skill: Actress Rachel Shenton signs learned sign language after her father became death
It says "Actress Rachel Shenton signs learned sign language after her father became death".

The first weirdity, "signs learned sign language", is almost understandable - she is signing the sign language that she has learnt. But, I mean, obviously she learnt it, you don't need to distinguish between learned and unlearned sign language, usually. Seems like a straightforward cut-and-paste fail: they started out saying what she's signing, and then changed it to "learned sign language" and just botched it.

The second weirdity is interesting: "after her father became death". Now you might think it's just a simple substitution of "death" for "deaf" - it means after her father became deaf. But in fact, she didn't learn it after he lost his hearing; she learnt it after he died. So it really does mean death. But you can't say that he "became death", of course. So what's happened here? Did the sub-editor think to themselves, "no, it was after he died, not after he became deaf", and then have a total language malfunction? Is it really a typo and just a coincidence that it reflects the facts? Either way, I think I shall refer to people becoming death instead of dying from now on.

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