Some background:

In Steven Pinker's book The Stuff of Thought, he critiques Radical Pragmatics (ch 3). In one instance, on pages 121-122, he describes a computer simulation of Radical Pragmatics by James McClelland and Alan Kawamoto that "models the resolution of polysemous words in context."

He notes that the simulation fails because the program, when given "The bat broke the window," returns "A bat [the animal] broke the window using a baseball bat - the one interpretation that people don't make."

It's clear why people don't make this interpretation - rather than typical polysemy, or a double entendre, this interpretation uses bat to mean two things at the same time.

Now, my question:

Is there a name for this concept of a single morpheme meaning two different things at the same time, resulting in an intelligible sentence? Do any languages have this concept?


1 Answer 1


No. Since it never happens, why would any language have a concept for it?

  • It's clear that people don't make that interpretation for that specific sentence, I wasn't sure if there were other sentences that would have this sort of idea. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 1:37
  • Try a web search on "syntactic haplology" -- there might be something there to interest you.
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 16:41

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