[Ads-l] Not a crash blossom exactly

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Nov 8 20:30:38 EST 2018

--because it’s not a headline, but still.  

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), the "chief international security and diplomacy analyst” for NBC News, commenting on tonight's network news broadcast about the crash of the NATO warship that collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Norway, scuttling the half-billion dollar warship but saving the lives of his crewmen:

“The captain’s choice was a terrible one. He made the right choice, driving the ship aground.”

My wife and I both misparsed the first sentence as a criticism of the captain, only to realize once Stavridis got to the next sentence that it wasn’t. Reminds me of all those old papers about the ambiguity of “the shooting of the hunters”. A verbal paraphrase—either “The captain had a terrible choice (to make)” or “The captain made a terrible choice”—would have disambiguated in one direction or the other.  

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

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