A selection of headlines from stories in the news. They use English in a way that you might think is intended to confuse but it’s all perfectly clear to the native speaker.

This headline isn’t from a newspaper, it’s from one of my favourite TV shows, The Wright Stuff.  The introduction for one of their discussion topics was “Tee’d off by Open’s birdie ban?”

Two for the price of one!   The story was asking why Britain’s most prestigious golf tournament was awarded to the Royal St George golf club, a club that refuses to accept women members, won’t give them any voting rights, and in 2011 only accepts the fairer sex as paying visitors, charging them six times more than male members!  As the Wright Stuff team pointed out, can you imagine if the Royal St George’s treated black people as they do women? 

The headline has two puns – when you start a round of golf you tee off (hit the ball off a tee, which is a stand used to support the golf ball so that the player can strike it) and to be teed off is an idiom for angry, annoyed or fed up.  The second pun is “birdie ban”.  A birdie in golf is when a player plays a hole and gets a score of one stroke under par (the expected score for that hole), but bird is slang for a woman, and women are banned.  

Of course no one should be surprised by this ban,  GOLF has long been an acronym for Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.