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Strange sentence: The horse raced past the barn fell.



 
ESL Forum | English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms
This life came so close... | Got to vs. have/has to?
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Strange sentence: The horse raced past the barn fell. #1 (permalink) Sat May 09, 2009 11:19 am   Strange sentence: The horse raced past the barn fell.
 

In some (non-English) forum the sentence "The horse raced past the barn fell" was suggested being grammatically correct but not comprehensible. Not being an expert I somehow don't feel like that.
Could anyone comment?
Guntaleb
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Strange sentence: The horse raced past the barn fell. #2 (permalink) Sat May 09, 2009 11:29 am   Strange sentence: The horse raced past the barn fell.
 

I looked it up in google and found this in wikipedia:

* The horse raced past the barn fell.

The reader usually starts to parse this as an ordinary active intransitive sentence, but stumbles when reaching the word "fell." At this point, the reader is forced to backtrack and look for other possible structures. It may take some rereading to realize that "raced past the barn" is in fact a reduced relative clause with a passive participle, implying that "fell" is the main verb. The correct reading is then: "The horse (that was raced past the barn) fell."
This sentence can be parsed in other ways as well,[1] but that is irrelevant to its status as a garden path sentence.
The example hinges on the ambiguity of the lexical category of the word "raced": it can be either a past-tense verb or a passive participle.


So you can really read it as:

The horse (that was) raced past the barn fell.
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Shyone
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Strange sentence: The horse raced past the barn fell. #3 (permalink) Sun May 10, 2009 16:54 pm   Strange sentence: The horse raced past the barn fell.
 

I found the same after posting. I think one should be a very experienced English user if they want to deal with such sentences without any reference tools. For myself qualifying "race" as a transitive verb could be just a guess - there was no other choice :(
Guntaleb
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