I don’t often see a humor columnist of a major newspaper discuss how his atheism affects his approach to death, but Gene Weingarten absolutely nailed it in the Washington Post! Great column, and I had to share. Stand-up Tragedy
May I point out, Dawn, the slightest of ambiguities in the phrase “Chimp Trainer’s Daughter”, in that the first word does not necessarily modify the second; if semantics are subordinated to syntax, the reverse could be the case, as in “Girl Skater’s Friend”.
While I’m as good a nitpicker as most, I have to disagree with you, Chris. From your comment, it would appear that you are suggesting that either the sentence could mean that the trainer was a chimp or that the daughter was of the chimp. However, I believe both semantics and syntax must be subordinate to context and meaning. Since it’s both extremely unlikely that a chimp would be a trainer and that a chimp would be joining this forum, I believe Dawn’s statement remains quite clear.
Oh yes, you’re quite right. I was jocularly pointing out that, IF we ignore the semantics and apply only syntactical considerations, then we could interpret the phrase in the reverse fashion. The example I gave (Girl Skater’s Friend) shows how such a reverse case could actually make sense—given the right semantics.
Don’t worry about it, Dawn. Some of us older fuds like to play word games by twisting odd meanings out of standard statements. Your title is clear and interesting. It’s also succinct which often allows purposeful misinterpretation. As you pointed out, the other way doesn’t allow that, but it’s much less catchy.