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For an example of ambiguous syntax:

John likes Adam more than Eve.

Such a construction could mean that:

Comparing Adam and Eve, John likes Adam more.

Compared to Eve's liking of Adam, John likes Adam more.

Is there a list anywhere of common distinct ambiguous English syntax?

EDIT:

I've edited this to note that I'm just looking for a list of common syntax ambiguities. I'm not expecting a complete list, for I know that there's not a finite quantity of syntax ambiguities.

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    No, there are infinitely many such ambiguities. – user6726 Oct 15 '18 at 5:01
  • So are you looking for a corpus-based statistical analysis? All ambiguities are equally common, in terms of the set of forms that can be generated. – user6726 Oct 15 '18 at 14:48
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    All written English sentences are multiply ambiguous, though when pronounced they are usually not. If you want to see how ambiguous a sentence can be, take a look at Stephen Abney's famous paper on the subject. – jlawler Oct 15 '18 at 17:48
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[partial answer]

Your example has elision (ellipsis) ambiguity. The best paraphrases simply add the missing words that the listener is expected to assume: (rather than change the existing syntax as you did in your interpretations)

John likes Adam more than [John likes] Eve.

John likes Adam more than Eve [likes Adam].

Elision can also cause (polysemous) transitivity errors: "He is running [for office]."

Other ambiguities arise from polysemous words, which can cause parsing of the wrong Part-Of-Speech or choosing the wrong idiom: "They can fish." "The cat is on the TV again."

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Unfortunately, no such list can exist. According to standard models, language is infinite and recursive, and there are infinitely many different ways a sentence can be made ambiguous.

For example, imagine the structural rules NP → NP and NP and NP → NP 's NP. (Or DP instead depending on your theory, but calling it an NP here is simpler.) With only these two, you can already create an infinite number of ambiguous sentences: "my brother's dog and cat", "my brother's dog and cat's name", etc etc.

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  • I've edited this to note that I'm just looking for a list of common syntax ambiguities. I'm not expecting a complete list, for I know that there's not a finite quantity of syntax ambiguities. – abcjme Oct 15 '18 at 5:47

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