"parse" without direct object

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 30 01:29:23 UTC 2009

That reading didn't occur to me at the time, but I can get it too.


On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 3:22 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "parse" without direct object
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 8:48 AM -0500 1/29/09, Herb Stahlke wrote:
>>The following appears in an article on today's WashingtonPost.com in
>>an article titled "For GOP, a case of misshapen identity":
>>Even the Purple guys want to parse as they unveil their new thing.
>>The expression "parse words," in the pejorative sense of making overly
>>fine distinction popular among right wing talk show hosts during the
>>Clinton impeachment investigations.  Ironically, Bill Clinton used
>>"parse" in the same sense during the recent campaign
>>"You can put it off a few days the problem is it's hard to reschedule
>>those things," Clinton said, "I presume he did that in good faith
>>since I know he wanted -- I remember he asked for more debates to go
>>all around the country and so I don't think we ought to overly parse
>>that." ( http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/09/bill-clinton-do.html)
>>This is the first time I  recall seeing "parse" used intransitively in
>>this sense.
> In the context I tend to agree with Herb that this is probably an
> intransitive or unspecified-object-deletion use of "parse", but in
> principle there's another possible reading, one that would involve a
> construction akin to that formerly (and still?) known as Right-Node
> Raising, the factoring operation you get in "The Congress passed and
> the President vetoed the tax cuts".  So here, the new purplish Repubs
> are described as trying to [parse as they unveil] their new thing,
> with that new thing being parsed as it's unveiled.  Granted, RNR
> usually applies across "and" and "or" rather than "as", but I can
> imagine, for example, saying "The Senator claimed we should pay for
> as we spend resources on the new programs", where "pay for" clearly
> isn't intransitive.  And what could be more apt in the specified
> context than Right Node Raising?
> LH
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