Watching television news and pseudo-news à la The Daily Show, I hear a lot of misplaced modifiers. I also see them in print:
- the former lesbian tennis star
- the former French president
- seeking a junior Chinese copywriter
These bother me because they change the intended meaning. I am fairly sure the former tennis star is still a lesbian; the former president is still French and the junior copywriter sought is still capable of using Chinese (what would a “junior Chinese” be, exactly?).
I’m fussy, but clarity is meaningful.