Modifier location is important

Ugh. Today, on Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day, there was a misplaced modifier in one of the example sentences. Considering MW is supposed to be one of the authorities on grammatical correctness, I was quite disappointed. Here’s the sentence, with the word of the day being vitrine:

“A weathered wooden child’s chair is stacked atop its twin, with two bright pink plastic bowls stacked on the top seat. In an adjacent vitrine sits a miniature version of this assemblage, the tiny pieces placed in the center of a bright orange square of velvet.”
— From an art exhibit review by Jessica Baran in the Riverfront Times (St. Louis, MO), 24 February 2011

In this sentence, “weathered” and “wooden” seem to be modifying “child” instead of the “chair,” but that meaning is clearly not the intent. I don’t think that the child is made of wood or that (s)he is weathered. Instead, the sentence should read something like “A child’s weathered wooden chair…” but I digress.

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