Dangling modifier: 'liveried with the warning'

A nice dangling modifier from some recent raw copy:

In addition, the police continue to move their campaign trailer across the county, which is liveried with the warning: “Truckers beware, this is a lorry load theft hotspot.”

So the whole county is liveried... impressive.

Dangling modifiers and BK's meat scent
Dangling modifier: 'lorry drivers in Suffolk'
Dangling modifier: 'powder coat finish'


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This is a paricularly bad example and I agree it's unacceptable, but in general I'd show more leniance to dangling modifiers. Take this one:

"After writing the article, the blog was deemed a success by its author."

Yes technically it's poor grammar as the blog did not write the article. But is any harm done? There is no ambiguity of meaning (unlike the above case), so on a cognitive linguistic level I don't see why it should cause a problem for readers.

JD (The Engine Room) said...

Most dangling modifiers don't cause ambiguity of meaning, but some do. Why risk it? It's usually easy to rewrite a sentence to avoid a dangler.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Better, the entire country is a lorry load theft hotspot? Wow.

Anonymous said...

True of course that it's simply best to avoid them. I wonder if they will become more accepted over time though...

Traditional grammar says that the agent in the modifying clause has to be the subject of the main clause - but do speakers of English actually process those grammatical rules?

In my example, it seems plausible that on a cognitive level speakers interpret "After writing the article" as a non-agentive, temporal statement, i.e. "After [it was the case that] the article had been written".

If so, it is no longer a dangling modifier. The sentence makes perfect grammatical sense.

"After the article had been written, the blog was deemed a success by its author."