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Why is there a comma after "his" in the headline? Does this mean his AND his wife's experience? Is it correct english, or slang?

"Man discusses his, wife's experience being injured during the Boston marathon bombings."

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/boston-marathon-explosion-video-attack-victim-hard-mad-18969745

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Headlines have very relaxed "rules" of grammar; see also: chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/02/18/… –  Michael Edenfield Apr 17 '13 at 1:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It's short for "Man discusses his and his wife's experience...." It does not mean "Man discusses his wife's experience."

News headlines are trying to achieve maximum impact with as few words as possible, so they often take liberties with omitting unnecessary words, while preserving the message of the story.

This particular headline might be somewhat awkward English, but there's nothing technically incorrect about it.

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I see this as a uniquely American style. It's frequently used in headlines there, but I don't recall ever seeing it in any UK newspapers/websites. –  Poldie Apr 16 '13 at 22:40

This is an offshoot of the usage of the serial comma, but without the conjunction.

"Man discusses his, wife's, son's, and daughter's experience." is typical and grammatically correct. It is expected that the "and" is implicit in the comma, and the list can be shortened to as few as two items.

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And is often omitted before wife; his can only be omitted in headlines (and looks strange to me even then). –  TimLymington Apr 16 '13 at 21:02
    
his can't ever be omitted without losing information, in this type of sentence (fragment) –  Sparr Apr 16 '13 at 22:09
    
?? His has been omitted before wife's. This is peculiar, but does not reduce information. –  TimLymington Apr 16 '13 at 22:13
    
@TimLymington ahh, you mean the difference in "his, his wife's" and "his, wife's". I thought you meant the still-there "his" could also be removed. –  Sparr Apr 16 '13 at 23:45

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