Ambiguity

On syntax, in cases like these it can be tricky to surmise whether the opening adjective should apply to the first or second of the following nouns. 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
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)
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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