Used as a place of safety by the D.A.R.

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From Julian Hook:

I don’t suppose nominations are still open for Best Attachment Ambiguity of 1920, but if they are, I’d like to nominate this historical marker in Galena, Illinois.

Nominations are always in order for the Trent Reznor Prize for Tricky Embedding, and we haven't had one of those for a while.

I don't have the time or energy just now to create the parse tree or dependency graph, but maybe later…

Some other TRP posts:

"Trent Reznor Prize to Bernard-Henri Levy", 2/12/2006
"Trent Reznor Prize nomination", 2/23/2006
"Another Trent Reznor Award Nominee", 3/8/2006
"Trent Reznor Prize, RNR Division", 4/5/2008
"Cross examination", 6/26/2011
"Two candidates for the Trent Reznor Prize", 6/27/2011
"Trent Reznor Prize nomination: Mark Steyn", 1/24/2012
"Trent Reznor Prize contender", 3/4/2012
"Nominee for the Trent Reznor Prize", 4/14/2012
"Trent Reznor Award nomination", 11/13/2016
"538 snags Trent Reznor Prize nomination", 10/19/2017
"Trent Reznor Prize nominee", 9/24/2018
"Trent Reznor Prize nominee: Jamie Salter", 10/5/2019
"Nominated for the Trent Reznor Prize", 1/4/2021



  1. Matt Sayler said,

    June 26, 2021 @ 3:14 pm

    The layout helps here. The breaks make this seem less tricky than it would be, if written linearly.

  2. Jonathan Smith said,

    June 26, 2021 @ 5:38 pm

    Not too "tricky" for humans but staggering number of cromulent parses… excellent alien trap

  3. Narmitaj said,

    June 26, 2021 @ 6:52 pm

    My favourite attachment ambiguity (assuming I have understood the term correctly) that I have seen myself is a memorial plaque at Dore Abbey in Abbey Dore in South Wales.


    My transcription is more accurate than the one on the IWM's (Imperial War Museum) War Memorial Register, which spells out Croix de Guerre and September.

    Their site is missing a photo of the plaque, so I have just emailed them one I took in July 2015.

    [(myl) Please send a copy of the photo, and I'll post it here for posterity.]

  4. Jerry Packard said,

    June 26, 2021 @ 8:11 pm

    Seems fine to me. I have a hard time seeing the ambiguity.

  5. Peter Taylor said,

    June 27, 2021 @ 1:51 am

    @Jerry Packard, it's in the title: "erected by" or "used as a place of safety by"?

  6. Jerry Packard said,

    June 27, 2021 @ 7:27 am

    Ah, I see. Thank you.

  7. Gregory Kusnick said,

    June 27, 2021 @ 9:41 am

    There's a third reading: "the war by the Priscilla Mullins chapter" (against, presumably, some rival chapter).

  8. Haamu said,

    June 27, 2021 @ 10:49 am

    Yet another ambiguity is the referent of which. Was the "place of safety" the stockade or the blockhouse commanding the stockade? (I admit that the stockade is more likely.)

    And, note to all erectors of historical markers and memorial plaques: it isn't all about you! There's no reason for the first word on your marker (on the top line all by itself, no less) to be the verb describing what you did.

    The solution here is trivial: "On this site, the* block house commanded the* stockade which …" or "In memory of …" — and then below (preferably in a smaller font), "Erected by …"

    (* If the structures are no longer apparent, I'd probably prefer "On this site, a block house commanded a stockade …")

  9. Nat J said,

    June 28, 2021 @ 10:14 pm

    “which” could also attach to “site”, which doesn’t introduce any real semantic ambiguity, but is syntactically distinct. And then “commanding” could modify either “site” or “house”. If we follow the principle that ambiguity should be resolved by proximity, I think it all works out correctly, except for the ambiguity noted in the title (“by”). Still the myriad potential interpretations do add to the cognitive load, I think, in trying to parse the sentence.

  10. rpsms said,

    June 29, 2021 @ 11:11 am

    I thought it perfectly cromulent until I reached "1920."

  11. Narmitaj said,

    June 30, 2021 @ 10:51 am

    @ myl – photo of Dore Abbey plaque above duly emailed.

  12. Narmitaj said,

    June 30, 2021 @ 10:56 am

    BTW Dore Abbey is actually just over the border, 3 miles or so inside England, but as the plaque mentioned South Wales friends and the friend I was staying with lives about 200 metres on the Welsh side of the border I casually assumed it was all Wales.

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