[Ads-l] (Unfortunate) syntax in the news

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 19 16:26:52 EST 2017


> "... approximately 50 very attractive females. It ranged ..."

"Approximately 50 very-attractive"?! Dood swung a heavy hammer! Wonder what
his score is, when you add in the not so "very-attractive females"?

"*It* ranged..."? Why not "*They* ranged..."?

On Sun, Nov 19, 2017 at 1:43 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> Not variation exactly, but still of possible interest.  Bill O’Neill, an
> Ohio Supreme Court Justice and (until now) a candidate for governor
> recently came to the defense of Sen. Al Franken and Alabama senatorial
> candidate Roy Moore and "speaking on the behalf of all heterosexual men”
> everywhere (gee, thanks) by revealing his own props in a Facebook post on
> Friday (Nov. 17).  This was circulated in the press in the form
>
> “As a candidate for Governor let me save my opponents some research time.
> In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very
> attractive females. “It ranged from a gorgeous personal secretary to
> Senator Bob Taft (Senior) who was my first true love and we made passionate
> love in the hayloft of her parents barn."
>
> I first saw this item in the above form and figured the garden path was in
> part a case of our seeking closure—not emotional, but syntactic—as
> described a couple of lifetimes ago by John Kimball, and that the full
> quote would provide the actually intended rangee as the object of its own
> “to", i.e.
>
> “It ranged FROM [a gorgeous personal secretary to Senator Bob Taft
> (Senior) who was my first true love and we made passionate love in the
> hayloft] TO [my current lovely wife and the mother of my children]
>
> --the idea being that when we come across that first “to”, we inevitably
> close it off as
>
> ranging FROM [a gorgeous personal secretary] TO [Sen. Bob Taft (Senior)],
>
> hence the double-take (especially in the enumerating members of the
> honored group of "50 very attractive females”).  But in fact the full
> context, given below, isn’t that straightforward (as it were):
>
> “As a candidate for Governor let me save my opponents some research time,”
> O’Neill wrote. “In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with
> approximately 50 very attractive females. “It ranged from a gorgeous
> personal secretary to Senator Bob Taft (Senior) who was my first true love
> and we made passionate love in the hayloft of her parents barn in
> Gallipolis and ended with a drop dead gorgeous red head who was a senior
> advisor to Peter Lewis at Progressive Insurance in Cleveland”
> http://theweek.com/speedreads/738285/democratic-ohio-
> supreme-court-justice-just-made-bad-facebook-post-defense-sen-al-franken
>
> And since Bob Taft Senior (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Taft)
> died in 1953, Justice O'Neill appears to be confessing to necrophilia as
> well, unless in referring to Bob Taft (Senior) he actually meant Bob Taft
> (Junior).
>
> I see O’Neill’s Facebook post now appears in various places on the web
> along with suggestions for editing:
> https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/11/17/why-
> that-grammar-ohio-candidate-facebook-post-wrong/
> hCsT6nlk2kMUl1OUSpeepN/story.html
>
> LH
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
-Wilson
-----
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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