Be careful where you stick it – Words change meaning


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.

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