Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Today's linguistic ambiguity lesson

The noun phrase "government shutdown" can be heard every few minutes on tv, radio, etc.  This phrase can be interpreted in two different ways.  The preferred way for Teabaggers and their ilk is "shutdown by the government"; the always-bad government is the agent, the one doing the shutting down.  You get this meaning in complaints such as "the government shut down our national parks and monuments."

The reality, I believe, is that it should be understood as "shutdown of the government," with the agent unspecified.  Of course, we know who the agent is: the relatively small but unduly influential gang of aynrandian wingnuts in Congress, feared out of all proportion to their intellectual or moral worth because they are backed by the enormous wealth of people like the Koch Bros.

So it's really Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, Rand Paul, and their buddiess in Congress that have shout down the government; not the government itself.

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