eternally stressed semanticist (cqs) wrote,
eternally stressed semanticist

Random sign of linguistic interest

One of my co-TAs used in his lecture last week the sentence, probably standard in the field though I hadn't ever encountered it myself:

The council denied the protesters a permit because they {feared/advocated} violence.

The sentence has the same structure regardless of which verb in braces is used, and yet speakers use their real-world knowledge to instantly interpret "...they feared violence" as referring to the council, and "...advocated..."as referring to the protesters.

Now, from the window of a local Greek-owned sub shop:

Help wanted. Experience needed.

A noun followed by the passive participle of which it's the subject (with "is" understood), in both cases. And yet I suspect not a single passerby has any doubt about who wants the help, and who needs the experience, and has no trouble understanding that they're not the same individual.

Well, I thought it was cool. (For extra credit: the individual who wants help--the store--is pretty salient in the situation. Try to define exactly who the salient individual is who needs experience.)
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