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    #1

    dangling participle?

    Hello

    On Keith's stag night, his friends left him tied to a lamp-post in Trafalgar Square, wearing only his underpants.

    Is the participle not dangling?
    IMO, the sentence is open to two interpretations.

    Opinions are welcome

    Thanks
    Last edited by svartnik; 15-Jan-2007 at 20:02.


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    #2

    Re: dangling participle?

    Surely there is little room for debate. As this is surely a dangling participle.
    As the sentence suggests that the lamp post was wearing underpants.


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    #3

    Re: dangling participle?

    Quote Originally Posted by Niall View Post
    Surely there is little room for debate. As this is surely a dangling participle.
    As the sentence suggests that the lamp post was wearing underpants.
    I have been vacillating between Keith and his friends.
    Are you implying the participle clause has to anchor to the noun nearest to it?


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    #4

    Re: dangling participle?

    I was, do forgive me for implying this.
    As the modifier (participle) does not always modify the nearest noun. However, this is most often the case.

    There is no reason to presume that anything other than "the lamp-post" is being modified, and thus it seems only logical to presume that the modifier refers to the closest noun.


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    #5

    Re: dangling participle?

    Quote Originally Posted by Niall View Post
    I was, do forgive me for implying this.
    As the modifier (participle) does not always modify the nearest noun. However, this is most often the case.

    There is no reason to presume that anything other than "the lamp-post" is being modified, and thus it seems only logical to presume that the modifier refers to the closest noun.

    Thank you.


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    #6

    Re: dangling participle?

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    Hello
    On Keith's stag night, his friends left him tied to a lamp-post in Trafalgar Square, wearing only his underpants.
    Is the participle not dangling?
    IMO, the sentence is open to two interpretations.
    Opinions are welcome
    Thanks
    I don't believe this is a dangling modifier, Svartnik and there is, to my mind, only one possible interpretation; the sensible one.

    Although these are sometimes good for a laugh, they are not the major problem that teachers make them out to be. Language has context and that context invariably leads us to the correct conclusion on meaning.

    AHD notes that "[T]hese constructions are common in speech, where they often go without comment, and they can be found occasionally in writing. But they are distracting to the reader, and they can sometimes lead to unintended absurdities."

    § 21. dangling modifiers. 1. Grammar. The American Heritage Book of English Usage. 1996

    Note the word "occasionally". Most examples from 'teaching sources/teachers that I have come across often ask the reader to accept some ludicrous notion in order to justify their complaint.

    Even in the AHD cited above we find such an example;


    "Consider this example, penned by a well-respected writer and published by the New York Times:
    After wading through a long, quasi-academic examination of the statistical links between intelligence, character, race and poverty, the readerís reward is a hoary lecture on the evils of the welfare state.

    This sentence begins with a prepositional phrase that has a gerund for its object. As a verb form, the gerund cries out for a subject, and we must supply it mentally. The sense requires reader, but the subject of the main clause is reward. We want the reader, not the reward, to do the wading.
    It's a real stretch for a sentient human to believe that 'reward' has done or will ever do any 'wading'. Everyone understands that the reader is the understood subject; common sense tells us that.

    More examples follow but the misinformation continues. The writer of this piece takes isolated sentences to try to make the point. The point is, again, that language is not a series of isolated sentences. Language has context and those privy to the context rarely misunderstand these supposed errors.

    Let me supply a caveat. For writing, there is often the possibility of being clearer and we should note that that's something worthwhile to strive for, but we have to keep in mind that "fowlerizing" language serves no useful purpose either.


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    #7

    Re: dangling participle?

    Hi,
    I think the comma signals the participle does not refer to the lamp-post.

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