Not descriptivistly correct, but...

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Tue Mar 24 12:07:03 UTC 2009

On Mar 24, 2009, at 2:27 AM, Margaret Lee wrote:

> I think it is a dangling modifier rather than a misplaced modifier
> since the real subject is missing from the phrase.
> ________________________________________
> --- On Tue, 3/24/09, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
> ...I can't resist nominating this TV show capsule summary for the
> Misplaced Modifier of the Month award:
> Roommates
> "The Roommate" - Hours before giving birth, a woman's boyfriend
> leaves her for her best friend and quits the talent agency they run
> together in order to start his own competing business;...

yes to Margaret Lee; "hours before giving birth" is what's commonly
called a "dangling modifier" -- in careful terms, a _s_ubjectless
_p_redicational _a_djunct that _r_equires a referent for the missing
subject (a SPAR) but doesn't pick the referent up in the default
fashion, from the subject of the main clause.  the subject of the main
clause is "a woman's boyfriend", so default referent-finding would
have the woman's boyfriend giving birth.  whoops.  the intended
referent is the woman, but "a woman" isn't the subject of the main
clause; instead it's inside that subject.


The American Dialect Society -

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