Consider the intonation of the following two
- Joseph Smith was murdered in Illinois by a mob of Mormon
haters in 1844.
- Mordechai Goldbaum was murdered in Munich by a mob of
Nazi haters in 1934.
The first sentence comes from page 6 of the recent book Under the
Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
by Jon Krakauer.
The second sentence is made up on the pattern of the first sentence.
From what we know about history, "Mormon haters" would have to have an
accentuation similar to "blackbird," to convey its meaning of "people
who hate Mormons." By contrast, "Nazi haters" would have to be given an
accentuation resembling "black bird," to convey its meaning of "Nazis
who hate (Jews)."
Perhaps a better example of the second sentence might be
The Mountain Meadows massacre was perpetrated by
where "Mormon haters" is given a "black bird" stress in order to convey
its meaning of "Mormons who hate (Gentile intruders who pass through
southern Utah on their way to California)."
This all is similar to the ambiguity of the written phrase "English
teacher." When spoken, this phrase is either pronounced like
"blackbird" to convey the meaning "one who teaches English," or like
"black bird" to convey the meaning "a teacher who is English."
Someone somewhere has probably written a technical paper inferring all
the rules about how contrasting accentuation disambiguates meaning.