Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Mother of All Garden-Path Sentences

I posted this to Facebook but have been told it is too good to hide there.  So, this appeared on the Daily Kos on Sunday.  It's the second sentence - I'm including the first one for context:
[A church in Davidson, NC placed a bronze statue of Jesus sleeping while homeless on their property.] So a neighbor outraged a taker dare get a bit of rest in her neighborhood called the police in order to have them remove the unsightly vagrant from her neighborhood.
Okay, spoiler alert, here's the grammatical interpretation:
So a neighbor (who was) outraged (that) a "taker" (would) dare (to) get a bit of rest in her neighborhood called the police in order to...
Good one, huh?


Jonathon Owen said...

What the what.

Even with the interpretation, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it. How does a native speaker produce such a jumble?

vp said...

Understood it on the second parse (inserting commas after "neighbor" and "neighborhood".

Not as bad as I was expecting.

Faldone said...

I don't think I've ever seen "taker" used with this meaning. Is this usage common in North Carolina?

Monica said...

Oh, "taker" is the current right-wing term for anyone who takes government support. You know, like Senators who accept their health care packages!

Lewis said...

That was a very clever one; longer than the usual garden paths that I've read in the past. I have a short one for you..."The young kid the old tenants."