Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

Misplaced Modifiers: Comedy Ensues

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They’re quite humorous at times. Honestly, these “errors” are one of the most interesting in the English language. Why? They change the entire meaning of a sentence. Take for instance a famous quote from Groucho Marx:

Last night I shot an Elephant in my pajamas and how he got there I’ll never know.

Why is it so funny? It’s because it sounds as though he shot an elephant that was in his pajamas, instead of shooting an elephant while wearing pajamas or some other phrasing to the same ends. It’s a matter of twisting the words around to make the phrase make logical sense. In my teaching experience (and granted I only have a year of it), this is one of the more difficult grammatical errors to make students see. It’s because the sentence still makes logical sense. It just doesn’t necessarily make the same sense to an outside perspective. Enter the audience who will be reading the work.

Another one, which actually got me on this subject in the first place, was one that a friend of mine wrote as a facebook status (and not to make fun of this friend), and it was quite funny.

__________ just killed a snake that was threatening my dog with a .22 and feeling pretty epic about it.

Now, this is another funny thought. Now, I didn’t catch it till someone else brought it up…however, I don’t generally look for too much grammatical accuracy in facebook statuses. The picture this paints is that this person killed a gun-wielding snake. It’s pretty humorous. We all know what was meant, but it’s funny to think about these things sometimes.

This comedy is what makes these misplaced modifiers fun. As long as people continue to write, there will still be incidences of this. I just think that it’s good for people to laugh about it and go along with their business.

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Written by barryr22

May 4, 2010 at 4:25 pm

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