Ambiguous Headlines

I found this headline ambiguous:

Negotiators work on Nth Korea deal to close nuclear facilities

When they say "Nth Korea deal" do they mean "North Korea deal" or "Nth Korea Deal" wherein the latter, N is used a variable to emphasize that there have been so many failed deals that enumeration has become difficult.

This is particularly problematic because both interpretations seem entirely appropriate headlines for the story in question.

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Benjamin Mako Hill

Rebel with rather too many causes. And your host!

3 thoughts on “Ambiguous Headlines”

  1. On the one hand, I think it would be mainly math/computer geeks who might think of the ambiguity and confusion of “Nth” with the math sense of the term.  I just can’t see that ever being in a headline in this context.

    On the other hand, “Nth” is a pretty awkward substitute for “North.”

  2. This reminds me of a top news story I heard on King 5 news in Seattle:

    “An explosion sends three people to Harborview medical center”

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