Ambiguity, Anaphora, Transitive Verb Amusements
If reading up on transitive verbs or anaphora seems a bit too difficult for a Monday following a holiday weekend, you’re in for a laugh-out-loud treat.
Pulling examples from Denys Parsons’ book It Must Be True: Classic Newspaper Howlers, Bloomers, and Misprints, Stan Carey treated us to a selection of “Howling ambiguities” this weekend. I set them aside for today, knowing I’d need a pick-me-up this morning. I highly recommend them as a brightener for your Monday afternoon.
Example: After using your ointment my face started to clear up at once, and after using two jars it was gone altogether. (Ad in Bristol paper)
Meanwhile, over on the Macmillan Dictionary blog, Gill Francis looks at the funny side of transitive verbs and even uses an example from Edward Vanderpump’s comment on Carey’s post. Francis notes that we are often surrounded by object-less instructions. The ambiguity in such instructions as “Keep away from children” or “Shake before use" can be another source of amusement.
Example: Will drivers please rinse out mugs, then stand upside down in sink.
Please read [these posts] and follow [these instructions] for your own amusement and at your own discretion.
Image courtesy of Brett Jordan.