1

What is the understood subject of the subordinate clauses in bold below?

  1. The White House framed the announcement from the world’s two largest polluters ahead of a landmark U.N. conference to address the issue this fall.

  2. The White House framed the announcement from the world’s two largest polluters as move to position the countries in the fight against climate change ahead of a landmark U.N. conference to address the issue this fall.

In other words, in each of these sentences, who or what would "address the issue this fall"?

How can we figure this out? And is there a difference between the two examples?

4
  • What is the question here?
    – Mamta D
    Oct 14, 2015 at 8:32
  • It's the White House. Read it this way - White House framed the announcement [from the world's two largest polluters (ahead of a landmark UN conference)] to address the issue this fall.
    – Maulik V
    Oct 14, 2015 at 8:38
  • I edited the question. plz review
    – inches
    Oct 14, 2015 at 8:50
  • In any case, it's the White House. It framed the announcement from wherever for whatever purpose ahead of any event... change in any of them won't alter the subject there. Who framed the announcement? It's the White House. UN Conference is just an event there. Had it been the UN Conference, it'd have been - 'UN conference to address the issue this fall as The White House framed....'
    – Maulik V
    Oct 14, 2015 at 9:33

1 Answer 1

2

These statements are syntactically ambiguous.

  1. The White House framed the announcement from the world's two largest polluters ahead of [a landmark U.N. conference to address the issue this fall].

  2. The White House framed the announcement [from the world's two largest polluters ahead of a landmark U.N. conference] to address the issue this fall.

  3. The White House framed the announcement from the world’s two largest polluters as move to position the countries in the fight against climate change ahead of [a landmark U.N. conference to address the issue this fall].

  4. The White House framed the announcement [from the world’s two largest polluters as move to position the countries in the fight against climate change ahead of a landmark U.N. conference] to address the issue this fall.

In 1 and 3, a landmark U.N. conference is addressing the issue this fall.

In 2 and 4, it is the White House.

However, I would assert that it is likely to be the U.N. Conference that addresses the issue in both cases (1 and 3) because there's no causal link between the White House framing the announcements and then addressing the issue this fall.

Consider:

The White House framed the announcement to address the issue this fall.

At the very least, something like this is... unidiomatic, unless you were saying it in response to a question like "Who framed the announcement?" or "Why did the White House frame the announcement?"

1
  • +1. "to address" could be changed to "which will address". Oct 14, 2015 at 13:11

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