palestinian prisoners restart talks with palestinian representatives

Es­ti­mated reading time is 1 minute.

FROM TODAY’S SEATTLE TIMES (July 21, 2003) comes a piece ti­tled “Is­rael OKs freeing some pris­oners to restart talks” (page A4). Got that: Pales­tinian pris­oners restart talks with Pales­tinian rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Now, prepo­si­tional phrases (like “to restart talks”) work best when they are placed as close as pos­sible to the word that they are modifying. 

They work best when placed im­me­di­ately after the word being mod­i­fied, like an ap­pendage. We there­fore tend to as­sume that a prepo­si­tional phrase IS, in fact, mod­i­fying the word that it fol­lows or to which it is closest.

In this case, this head­line tells us in the lit­eral sense that Is­rael is freeing some prisoners—in this case, Palestinians—so that those pris­oners can restart talks, ap­par­ently with other Palestinians.

Need­less to say, that is NOT what the ed­itor in­tended! He should have written, “In order to restart talks with Pales­tine, Is­rael OKs freeing some prisoners.”


HEADER IMAGE: “Thou­sands of Face­book users have changed their pro­file pic­tures in sol­i­darity with the Pales­tinian pris­oners, using the fol­lowing image by Pales­tinian graphic artist Hafez Omar. Vari­a­tions on the image (seen below) are also being widely used and thou­sands have adopted these im­ages. They are below for you to down­load and add to your own pro­file.” (Sami­doun)


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Writing of that cal­ibre is de­plorable in a newspaper!

kind of like the book
Eats Shoots and Leaves!

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