“A Grandmother dies after feeding her daughters pets”: or the importance of punctuation

Just getting food together this evening, and from the kitchen, this was the headline I heard on the 6.30pm BBC London News:

“A Grandmother dies after feeding her daughters pets”

The Mk1 ear picked this up, for my (admittedly random) brain to parse it as “A Grandmother has died, having fed pets to her daughters”.

Actually, what’s happened is a woman has died having been mauled by her daughter’s dogs in South London.

Maybe it’s just Halloween that’s making me think of this sentence as a one-line plot synopsis for an episode of Tales of the Unexpected – a woman covertly feeds her pets to her daughters, and meets some sticky end with a twist in the tail.

Sorry to go all Eats Shoots and Leaves on you… but the apostrophe that gave this statement the proper meaning vanished once it had become the spoken word.

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