An introduction to the analysis of linguistic ambiguity

First, then, we can consult our linguistic intuitions, independently of any empirical investigation. Bloomington: Indiana University. We may be right, but the ease of the move should counsel a policy of caution: Do not posit an ambiguity unless you are really forced to, unless there are really compelling theoretical or intuitive grounds to suppose that an ambiguity really is present.

Most ambiguities escape our notice because we are very good at resolving them using context and our knowledge of the world.

surface ambiguity

The lexicon is highly productive and easily extended. The paradox of how we tolerate semantic ambiguity and yet we seem to thrive on it, is a major question for this discipline.

For the discourse analysis, who is talking, how, why and when something is said, are essential. But computer systems do not have this knowledge, and consequently do not do a good job of making use of the context. Whereas related meanings have been shown to facilitate word recognition, unrelated meanings have been found to slow processing times He kicked the bucket last week and she did too, twice.

McKay, Thomas, We thus seem to have ambiguity that depends on certain structural features of the sentence.

Structural ambiguity

First, then, we can consult our linguistic intuitions, independently of any empirical investigation. Psychological, social and cultural events provide a moving ground on which those meanings take root and expand their branches. Static semantics usually treats the distinction between bound and free pronouns as a fundamental ambiguity; dynamic semantics relegates the distinction to an ambiguity in variable choice see Heim , , and Kamp There is a great deal of controversy over how scope is to be handled. The government and the trees have branches. An interesting case that straddles the two is the notion, suggested by Donnellan , that the apparent referential use of some sentences with definite descriptions might amount to a difference that shows up only in pragmatics. In effect, this is the difference between ambiguity in sense and ambiguity in reference seen most clearly in pronominal cases. If the ambiguity is in a single word it is called lexical ambiguity. The tests can be used for most of the other types of ambiguity though not speech act ambiguity for obvious reasons : My superfluous hair remover is not a superfluous hair remover; I need it!

Following this, I will use three major accomplishments of human creativity: literature, psychoanalysis and computational linguistics, as examples of where language ambiguity has an important place.

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Lexical Ambiguity Definition and Examples