Headlines that make you go “Hmmm…”

A disturbing news item. On top of which, the layering of past-tense verbs forces you to figure out the chronology.

Executed (a past-tense verb functioning here as an adjective) is one of those words that just feels pretty final, doesn’t it? So everything that comes after Executed, it seems, must have happened after the executions. In English, we tend to assume that each word builds on the previous word. So by the time we get to claimed, these poor Saudis have already been Executed.

Once we get to the end of the entire statement, we can piece it all together correctly: The Saudis apparently claimed, at some time prior to being executed, that they had been tortured, and just now we’re getting word of the claims.

But the writer hasn’t helped us get there. I won’t say it’s been torture; that would be in poor taste. But it sure did make some of us go “Hmmm….”

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