Monday, July 14, 2008

Free Tibet‘Free Tibet!’, exhorts the man waving the placard. However, the lady (assuming she isn’t trying to be funny) misinterprets the message, and believes she is on to a good thing.

The humour of this cartoon derives from the fact that the intended message has the structure V+O (free being a transitive, imperative verb and Tibet, the object), whereas the lady misconstrues free Tibet as a noun phrase (NP), with head noun Tibet and free as a premodifying adjective.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of this joke:

A guy walks into a bar and approaches the barman, "Can I have a pint of Less, please?"

"I'm sorry sir," the barman replies, looking slightly puzzled, "I've not come across that one before. Is it a spirit?"

"I've no idea," replies the guy, "The thing is, I went to see my doctor last week and he told me that I should drink less."

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Thanks! Enjoyed your contribution.

Vinodh said...

And what about this one: "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Thanks, Vinodh! Am preparing a tutorial on 'word class' so it was good to be reminded of the Groucho Marx quote. I'm using on the latter half as the first half has too many possible interpretations, most of them quite banal.