Misparsed phrases

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mathmannix
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Misparsed phrases

Postby mathmannix » Fri May 01, 2015 6:11 pm UTC

OK, I looked for a while in this forum for a thread like this so as to not need to start a new one, but I couldn't find one, so here we are.

This could be about misheard phrases (Lady Mondegreen and all that, like this thread), but I am wondering primarily about misread phrases, similar to the Wikipedia article on Garden Path sentences. "The horse raced past the barn fell." Gotta love that one, and I still want to parse it as the archaic meaning of "fell" - as in, field, or moor. So... does anybody have experiences with these they would like to share?

Anyway, the one that stumped me for a minute or so today was in the first sentence of this SMBC:
Spoiler:
Image

"I will love you as long as the sun bears light."
Now, despite the fact that I know what sun bears are (or as I've always seen them written, Malaysian Sun Bears), instead my brain wondered if sun bears were a type of optical illusion, a la sun dogs.

(And yes, spellchecker, "misparsed" is in the dictionary... or at least the Wiktionary.)
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Derek
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Re: Misparsed phrases

Postby Derek » Fri May 01, 2015 6:54 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Now, despite the fact that I know what sun bears are (or as I've always seen them written, Malaysian Sun Bears), instead my brain wondered if sun bears were a type of optical illusion, a la sun dogs.

You know that "bear" is actually the verb here, right? As in, "The right to bear arms".

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mathmannix
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Re: Misparsed phrases

Postby mathmannix » Fri May 01, 2015 7:01 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Now, despite the fact that I know what sun bears are (or as I've always seen them written, Malaysian Sun Bears), instead my brain wondered if sun bears were a type of optical illusion, a la sun dogs.

You know that "bear" is actually the verb here, right? As in, "The right to bear arms".

Yes, that's the point. I originally misparsed it, and was confused. Now I'm not.
EDIT: OH, sorry, I see why you wrote that. No, my point with the part that you quoted was that, after I realized I had misparsed it, I was surprised that I misparsed it differently than what seemed to me to be, after the fact of course, the obvious way. Because even though "sun bears" are a type of animal, and I know that, so "the sun bears light the fire" would make sense with that context, I instead from context assumed that "sun bears" were something else, like a mirage that lights up the sky.
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Quizatzhaderac
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Re: Misparsed phrases

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:31 pm UTC

That's my wife and my sister

.....

lives here to.
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Re: Misparsed phrases

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:19 pm UTC

On from a click-bait article title today.

I first read:
Squirrel rescued after (hurricane becomes an internet sensation).

was likely:
(Squirrel rescued after hurricane) becomes an internet sensation.

The misparse implies somebody needed to say: "Look at how many likes that hurricane has! We need to go out and save a squirrel!"
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Flumble
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Re: Misparsed phrases

Postby Flumble » Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:38 pm UTC

It's only natural, since "hurricane" alone is stupid as the object part (or whatever you call it in English) of "after". If they called it a "hurricane attack" you're a bit less likely to think the object continues. To get a real boost in clariy, it should've been a "post-hurricane squirrel rescue".

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Re: Misparsed phrases

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Oct 13, 2015 5:54 pm UTC

As I see it, the problems are the same as with "(The horse (racedperfect past the barn)) fell". In both cases adding "that was" and a comma, would have completely cleared things up; "that" clarifying that the description is going after the noun; "was" clarifying the the perfect form of "rescued" was being used, not the past "rescued". "The horse.." is particularly difficult as it forces the reader to overcome both at the same time.

"hurricane attack" doesn't really help. "Hurricane" is already an event noun, so "... after hurricane" is fine by itself. "hurricane attack" is redundant unless there's some embellishment: like an attack during a hurricane, or a mad scientist's use of a weather controller, or a hurricane themed round-house kick.
Last edited by Quizatzhaderac on Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:48 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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mathmannix
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Re: Misparsed phrases

Postby mathmannix » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:21 pm UTC

On the other hand, "Squirrel rescued after hurricane attacks" could be interpreted in at least three ways (two of which are virtually identical):

[The] squirrel [was] rescued after [the] hurricane attack[ed the coastline]

[The] squirrel [was] rescued after attacks [on the coastline made by a - or possibly made by more than one - ] hurricane

and of course

[The] squirrel ([which was] rescued after [a] hurricane) attack[ed somebody]
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Re: Misparsed phrases

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Thu Sep 15, 2016 3:45 pm UTC

Detroit free press wrote:After her brutalized body was covered with a blanket and stashed in an upstairs closet in her Warren home two years ago, Dejohn's husband — who is accused of killing her — twice had sex on the first floor with his girlfriend, who also is his first cousin, Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor William Cataldo told a jury today.
For a moment I read that the girlfriend was both his cousin and also the Assistant prosecutor. Putting "who also is his first cousin" in parenthesis would have helped clarify that the comma indicating a modification to the whole thing, not just the last part. But overall, the main problem is that the sentence contains seven statements.
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