Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Solving Life's Mysteries

So, I've come to the realization that if everyone wrote everything in minimalist syntactic trees, there would be no more structural ambiguity, and English teachers would never again have to take off points for "misplaced modifiers."

Here's an example of a confusing sentence:

"The agitated cow killed the farmer with the axe."

As it stands, it's ambiguous. Did the cow use an axe to kill a farmer, or did the cow kill a farmer who happened to have an axe? Well, if it had just been written in a syntactic tree, there'd be no ambiguity. Ex:





















Here, the farmer with the axe met his end by means of a cow. You can tell because "with the axe" is clearly an adjunct of "farmer." The other meaning, where a cow hacked the poor farmer to pieces, would be illustrated with the prepositional adjunct belonging to the verb phrase, "killed." Here you go:






















For some reason, I put "enraged" instead of "agitated, but the point is the same.

So yeah, I think any important text (newspapers, novels, etc.) should now be published in syntax-tree-format to eliminate future confusion.

1 comment:

  1. You are way to smart for me, I am glad you will still be my friend.

    ReplyDelete