- But it is clear that the political job of finding the right regulatory mechanisms to tame capitalism's volatility have not yet been found.
Distilling a complex sentence down to its essential elements is a technique I taught to students for years because it helps us see what the sentence "means" in a basic sense, and all we need is our intuition. No linguistic theory or technical terms are required. One way to do begin is to simply replace noun phrases with variables like X and Y:
- But it is clear that the X of finding the right Y to tame Z have not yet been found.
- The X of finding the right Y to tame Z have not yet been found.
- The X have not yet been found.
- The political job have not yet been found.
- The subject "political job" is singular and requires the verb to be "has" (syntax).
- It is odd to speak about finding a political job (when it clearly does not mean job in the sense of getting paid to do something). Rather, this is referring to political will (semantics).
This sentence presents what Colin Phillips has called a grammatical illusion. He explains them thusly:
Research on the online implementation of grammatical constraints reveals a strikingly uneven profile. The parser shows impressive accuracy in the application of some rather complex constraints, but makes many errors in the implementation of some relatively simple constraints.
His plenary talk at LSA 2010 provided a variety of examples (many involving "have", curiously enough). Here's a pre-print PDF of his work on the topic:
Grammatical illusions and selective fallibility in real-time language comprehension. Colin Phillips, Matt Wagers, & Ellen Lau. 26pp. June 2009. To appear in Language and Linguistics Compass.