Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

How to spot ambiguity

Philosophy News image
Not long ago, a colleague was setting up a meeting and suggested bringing along spouses to socialize after the business was done. Not getting a positive reply, she emailed: “I’m getting a lack of enthusiasm for boring spouses with our meeting.” A minute later, a second, clarifying email arrived indicating that she “meant boring as a verb not an adjective.” She had spotted the ambiguity in the first message. Ambiguity, as the word itself suggests, arises when words or phrases can be understood in more than one way. It can come from a word with more than one meaning (like “fresh”), from different words that sound and spell alike (like “bow” or “bare”/”bear”), or from words that can be combined in different ways, like “boring spouses.” Many ambiguities are easily resolved by linguistic or social context. The words “with our meeting” mostly disambiguates things in the example above, but until the reader gets to that phrase, “boring” could be read as either a verb or an adjective. Of. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

blog comments powered by Disqus

Recent Books in Philosophy

Check out some of the latest books being published in philosophy
in various fields and disciplines.