Posted by: cochinblogger | November 8, 2011

Misplaced Modifiers and Female Rapists

A front page report authored by the editor N. Ram in The Hindu (WikiLeaks Will Soldier On) on the U.K. WikiLeaks judgment begins with this sentence: “The High Court’s ruling that Julian Assange shall be extradited to Sweden to face an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and rape by two Swedish women was not entirely unexpected, considering how things have gone before this.”

Now, I was brought up short by “allegations of sexual assault and rape by two Swedish women.” At first sight, it appeared that sexual assault and rape were committed by two Swedish women, turning the alleged victims into perpetrators! Of course, a second look cleared it up, but this is the kind of stumbling that readers don’t need. What we have here is an example of a misplaced modifier. The fix is simple: “The High Court’s ruling that Julian Assange shall be extradited to Sweden to face an investigation into allegations by two Swedish women of sexual assault and rape was not entirely unexpected, considering how things have gone before this.”

For more on misplaced modifiers, see Misplaced Modifiers.

Try out these exercises on misplaced modifiers: Exercises on Misplaced Modifiers.

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