New "lumpkin," "girney"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Nov 19 16:05:45 UTC 2007

On Nov 19, 2007, at 7:27 AM, Charlie Doyle wrote:

> UrbanDictionary's first entry for "lumpkin" has a nice dangling
> particlple, which makes the definition ambiguous: "The act of oral
> sex performed on a man while defecating."

added to my collection.  these final adjuncts are especially
interesting, since they are straightforward counters to the claim that
modifiers should be adjacent to the things they modify (actually,
what's going on here isn't modfication but predication, but let that
pass).  here, the adjunct "while defecating" is right next to "the
man" (the phrase that is intended to supply the missing subject for
the adjunct), but this reading is surprisingly hard to get.  instead,
you want to pick up the referent for the missing subject from the
subject or topic of the main clause.

i have a number of entertaining examples that misfire, e.g.:

People Eat More Stale Popcorn If Served In A Big Bucket

Shawn walked on to the stage, festooned in well-wishing posters and
blue and yellow balloons.

(thanks to Mark Liberman and Michael Quinion, respectively).


The American Dialect Society -

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