Ambiguity

On syntax, in cases like these it can be tricky to surmise whether the opening adjective should apply to the first noun or to the following adjectival noun–noun pair. Some may be clarified by means of a judiciously-placed hyphen, but that would spoil the fun:

Vibrated concrete manufacturer

Missing intelligence officer

Edible oil merchants (and indeed Crude oil merchants)

Used car dealer

Small business adviser [peering over desk]

Great Queen Street

Hot bread shop

Swiss watch maker

Overweight lorry driver

Affordable housing shortage [one for conservative governments, confident that we—or rather they—can indeed afford a housing shortage]

Wild goose chase [man, that was one wild goose chase]

Huge face database

as  well as the classic

Fine tooth comb,

and perhaps even

One trick pony.

The letter to the leader of the quartet belongs in this category too.

This almost shades into silly headlines:

SQUAD HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM

and some punctuation might help here:

Come on England

3 thoughts on “Ambiguity

  1. Pingback: My new business enterprise | Stephen Jones: a blog

  2. Pingback: In search of temples—and another Daoist lineage | Stephen Jones: a blog

  3. Pingback: In search of temples—and another Daoist lineage | Stephen Jones: a blog

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