momentary misreading

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Thu Jul 16 12:55:21 UTC 2009

heard in a news report this morning on NPR about the shooting of a UN
refugee official near Peshawar, Pakistan:

   [UN refugee workers in Pakistan] have been kidnapping and bombing

at first, i interpreted the VP as being a progressive, though the idea
that refugee workers were kidnapping people seemed decidedly odd to
me.  then came "bombing", which seemed even more preposterous.  then
an apparent object, "bombing", which is consistent with "bombing", but
not with "kidnapping" (who kidnaps targets?).  then it all became
clear: not a progressive, but a predicative NP "kidnapping and bombing
targets" 'targets of kidnapping and bombing'.


The American Dialect Society -

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