Saturday, September 23, 2023

A syntactical ambiguity in a statement about the state of the United States House of Representatives

In her "Letter from an American" of 21 September 2023, Heather Cox Richardson quotes Ron Filipkowski on the interaction between former President Donald Trump and far-right Republicans in the United States House of Representatives: “House Republicans refuse to fund the government to protect Donald Trump.” The final phrase, "to protect Donald Trump", is syntactically ambiguous here. I first spontaneously read it to mean that funding the government would itself "protect Donald Trump", a claim which contradicts what's happening. After all, it is the refusal to fund the government that is intended — by Trump himself and the likes of Florida Representative Matt Gaetz — to protect the former President from federal legal investigations. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 23 September 2023)



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