the Ving N

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with language play in honor of the Olympics:

V-PRP + N can be understood in several ways, sometimes subtly different, but potentially distinguished by accent pattern and often associated with ambiguities in the V. As with the opening ceremony here, with (roughly) the Olympic Interpretation ‘ceremony in which an event opens, that is, begins’ (with primary accent on ceremony) vs. the Can Interpretation ‘ceremony in which the top of something is removed to get at its contents’ (with primary accent on opening).

The two senses, from among the great number of senses for the verb open offered by NOAD2:

[no obj.] (of an enterprise, meeting, or event) begin or be formally established: two new restaurants open this week.

[with obj.] undo or remove the lid, cover, or fastening of (a container, package, letter, etc.) to get access to the contents: he opened a bottle inexpertly, spilling some of the wine | can we open the presents now?

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