The vagaries of the English language are rife with opportunities to introduce imprecision. The so-called “garden path sentence,” which winds its readers’ attention back and forth on an idyllic journey to parseability, is a favourite of mine.
When you read a sentence like, “The exterior vent their frustrations,” everything starts off just fine! “The exterior vent,” gives you the distinct notion that we’re about to discuss an exhaust. But then, “their” boldly declares his presence, throwing you for a major WAT. Only then do you trudge back to “the exterior vent,” and realise that what you just read actually means, “The people outside are complaining.” Reading is hard, let’s have a picnic.
Today’s entry tugged me by the hand, giving me that familiar feeling I was being led down the garden path. As I reached “home,” however, I looked back in horror to see no route back to meaning. I had just (barely) survived a “teleporter sentence,” which is a term I just made up to describe when, a few words in, the reader suddenly finds himself, punctuation-free, in the middle of a completely different part of the narrative.
Long-time readers of this blog will not be surprised that I chose a Tuesday to experiment with both grammar and physics, as you all know exactly what was going on at my class at the Y.