No offense taken - glad the group could have a laugh!
From: L. B. Cebik[SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, July 27, 1997 03:47
Subject: [TowerTalk] Scotch 88
Since my note was the one cited, let me apologize if anyone took offense.
The question was not correct grammar, for the grammar was correct. No
comma was needed.
However, we all from time to time say something that can be taken two
ways. I consider us lucky if the second way happens to be a bit humorous.
Consider the Houston newspaper headline misspelling many years ago during
hurricane season: "Carla sighed off shore." They sold every copy.
The technical name for the 2-way statement here is amphiboly, a 2-way
grammatical construction. In WW II, when we had posters everywhere
exhorting us to greater efforts, sacrifices, and good wartime practices,
the powers that were destroyed about 50,000 posters with the following
"Waste" can be either an adjective for paper or an imperative verb. And
most of us have seen an old cartoon showing Saltines, when they wrapped
the boxes in waxed paper, with an ant racing along the edge of the box,
obeying the printed instruction to "Tear along dotted line." (This one is
an ambiguity, a word that can be read with 2 different meanings.)
So the "introduced me to Scotch 88 years ago" line was a natural for my
collection--almost a case of "wish I had said that." The way to have
avoided misreading would have been to put "Scotch 88" in quotation marks.
A hyphen between waste and paper might have saved the posters. But, then,
where would I get class examples?
No, I am not a closet grammarian, but a professional logician (also called
a philosopher in academic circles). My intent was good fun, but if my
remark caused offense, I apologize.
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