Questions tagged [ambiguity]

The phenomenon of an expression (a word, a phrase, ...) having more than one meaning. Ambiguity can be lexical or structural.

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Are there languages that don't have this kind of ambiguity?

In the sentence "John told James that he's happy.", the pronoun "he" is ambiguous, since it could refer to either John or James. Are there any languages which try to solve this ...
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2answers
321 views

Why are there spelling inconsistencies in Southern European languages? What is the historical origin of this redundancy?

I noticed that in the Southern European languages, words change spelling to reserve the pronunciation. For example, in Spanish verbs have -ar, -er, and -ir conjugation classes. First person singular ...
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1answer
83 views

Is there a term for a sequence of letters which can be divided into words in multiple ways?

I've been looking for a term that describes a phrase, unbroken into individual words, which could have multiple meanings depending on where it's divided. It's hard for me to even give good examples ...
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1answer
76 views

Sentence ambiguitiy

The sentence “Why did everyone’s father think that Tom said that you were fired?” is supposedly ambiguous in three different ways. However, I can’t seem to get any ambiguous reading from it. I have ...
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1answer
225 views

Eliminating potential meanings of an ambiguous phrase because if they meant XYZ, they'd have written differently: What is this inference called?

I find this situation arising from time to time: There's an ambiguous phrase Z with multiple possible meanings, X and Y (for illustration). If the author meant X, a reasonable or necessary choice of ...
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2answers
129 views

“Side!” can mean “Right!” or “Left!”. Does any language have a word that can mean “Forward” or “Backward”?

I teach partner dancing. I want to use language that makes sense to both Leads and Follows. When partners are facing each other, moving together, "Side!" is usefully ambiguous, meaning (depending on ...
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2answers
336 views

Are some human languages significantly less ambiguous than others?

Lojban was created to be syntactically unambiguous. I wonder though if there are natural languages that have the same property, or at least come much closer to having it than English does? Has ...
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1answer
100 views

Does this sentence have two meanings?

The sentence is Some employee must leave. I was told that it is actually ambiguous and has two meanings. But I can only see one. What are the two meanings?
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0answers
244 views

Is “coordination ambiguity” a subset of “attachment ambiguity”?

As I understand: “attachment ambiguity” is when a constituent could be legally attached to more than one parts of a sentence. “coordination ambiguity” is when a modifier could be attached to an ...
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0answers
98 views

How to differentiate the abbreviations for preposition and prepositional case in interlinear glossing?

How to differentiate the abbreviations for preposition and prepositional case in interlinear glossing? It’s both PREP and still very dissimilar, yet both appear mixed. Interlinear gloss really helps ...
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3answers
450 views

List Of Common English Syntax Ambiguities?

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 ...
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2answers
1k views

Syntactic and semantic ambiguity

Does syntactic (structural) ambiguity always come with semantic ambiguity, or is semantic ambiguity always due to syntactic ambiguity? Or are both statements correct?
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27 views

Are there languages that have different forms of “we”? [duplicate]

I find the pronoun "we" to be lacking due to its ambiguity regarding whether or not the listener and/or a 3rd party is included. Are there languages which address this by having either multiple forms ...
4
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1answer
159 views

Do any spoken languages readily express boolean logic without ambiguity?

Anyone who has worked with programming knows that boolean logic is hard to express in english. Given the statement "A and B must be false", with no context one can understand the statement to mean A ...
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1answer
332 views

Interpreting different types of ambiguity in a sentence

I am a studying Natural Language Processing and came across multiple types of ambiguity like lexical, scope, global, attachment and coordination ambiguities. Lexical ambiguity: Ambiguity of a single ...
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1answer
82 views

In German, doesn't using 'von' for agents of passive sentences result in ambiguity?

In German, the agent of a passive construction can be re-introduced using the preposition 'von' (well, 'durch' can be used too, but that's not really relevant). But what if there's another noun ...
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1answer
70 views

Enumerating the possible Pinyin -> Hanzi transcriptions

Pinyin Chinese text contains less information than its Hanzi equivalent, so its transcription is ambiguous: to identify the correct characters for some given Pinyin requires context. For this reason ...
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0answers
27 views

Is there are name for this type of ambiguity?

Is there a name for the ambiguity that arises when you can't tell a word's part of speech due to capitalization ? E.g. Run Engine Ambiguity: Command or compound noun?
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0answers
153 views

Syntactic ambiguity of adjective/adverb

"The bleak cadance of last month's inauguration was still in the air, when Trump lobbed the first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the capital’s brilliant-white porticos....." ...
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1answer
53 views

Is there a term of art for a metaphor that means its own opposite?

I see this a fair amount in Shakespeare, where he will use phrases that are perfectly ambiguous. One example from Macbeth: "there's husbandry in heaven, their candles are all out" There is good ...
3
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1answer
793 views

Do valid sentences of phrases that have different meanings in different languages exist? How are they called?

I am aware of words that have different meanings in different languages (for example, the word "brat" means brother in many Slavic languages). There are sentences made up from words of one language, ...
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1answer
117 views

Automated wh movement for turning an answer into the form of a question

I am not a linguist but I want to know if there are any parsing tools in existence that can help me do the following kind of thing: Given a sentence like the one below I would like to generate many ...
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0answers
95 views

Ambiguity tree: The doctor visited the patient drunk [closed]

I would like to ask if the trees regarding the two different readings of the sentence "The doctor visited the patient drunk" were drawn correctly. a) [VP [^NP The doctor] [V' [V visited] [NP [D the] [...
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1answer
171 views

Ambiguity, PCFG grammar

I know that the sentence "time flies like an arrow" could have lots of meaning and there is an ambiguity but I draw a tree and I got confused that which meaning is more suitable for this tree. S→ NP ...
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1answer
160 views

Conversational Implicature vs. Ambiguity

This book suggests the cancellability test for distinguishing the logical consequence from conversational implicature of an assertion. Examples 1a. You can have either soup or salad. 1b. You cannot ...
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1answer
13k views

What do you understand by the term 'register'? [duplicate]

I'd be interested in asking people about their understanding of the term register and what this signifies for them. This would be a discussion about a specialised term and I'm sure there are multiple ...
3
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1answer
154 views

Is there a grammar of syntax that takes into account inherent syntactic ambiguity in natural languages?

Natural languages necessarily have certain inherent ambiguity. If there were a natural language without inherent ambiguity, then one could have easily adopted such a natural language and used it as a ...
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2answers
570 views

How to determine an immediate constituent of a sentence [closed]

I am studying Spanish and Portuguese at university, and I am having some trouble with part of a Spanish linguistics assignment. I would be very grateful if somebody could shed some light on how to ...
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7answers
347 views

Can a case system in a language help resolve gramatical ambiguites?

One time in a linguistics class I sat in on, we were discussing ambiguous sentences such as "I killed the man with the spoon". In English, as written, it is unclear if the subject is using a spoon for ...
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0answers
29 views

What kind of ambiguity is this called?

"We've only got a thousand dollars, you know. Winning against him is impossible." In this context, "winning against him is impossible" does not mean that it is impossible, in general, for anyone ...
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1answer
125 views

handling ambiguity in parses

Given a sentence from http://home.uchicago.edu/~bartels/papers/Bartels-Johnson-2015-Cognition.pdf: We describe what can be gained from connecting cognition and consumer choice by discussing two ...
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5answers
380 views

Wordplay in ancient texts

I learned once that ancient texts (for example in Latin) did not separate words. Was that always true or only in specific kinds of documents and writings. Since I have been a bit interested in ...
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2answers
414 views

Everything is too much, nothing is too little?

What are the statements of the sentence : Everything is too much, nothing is too little. "Alles ist zuviel, nichts zu wenig." In German there are several interpretations: That everything is too ...
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1answer
677 views

influence of the structure of a sentence on its semantics

A friend told me : "The syntax is different from semantics. Semantics are concerned with the meanings of single words, not the structure of the sentence" Is that true ? If not, how can the ...
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1answer
548 views

Abbot & Costello “Who's on First” with a pragmatic (or other linguistic) perspective? [closed]

I'm in my first year of the Master's study in applied linguistics, and I'm trying to come up with my research question, which will form the basis of my thesis topic. I've found the famous routine by ...
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1answer
697 views

Earley Parser: Ambiguity

I've got a pretty basic question concerning the Earley parser: In case of syntactic ambiguity ( S -> NP VP(V NP(NP PP)) vs. S -> NP VP(VP((V NP) PP) ), are both parses stored in one chart or in two? ...
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0answers
73 views

NLP system with end-to-end ambiguity support?

I've noticed that most NLP systems I can easily investigate on the Internet don't handle ambiguity at all, or only handle within components of the pipeline and not between components. For instance it ...
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3answers
348 views

Structural ambiguity and 'because'

I am trying to analyze Arthur doesn't discipline his children because he loves them to show the structural ambiguity using phrase structure rules that precede X' rules, and that because is ...
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0answers
168 views

What are the best ways to remove ambiguities in spoken English?

I often find it hard to quickly switch between communication conventions in the colloquial speech, and those in a technical environment. A lot of this comes from ambiguities of how English as a ...
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2answers
3k views

Is there a favoured data structure for storing ambiguous parse trees in Natural Language Processing?

I know a bit about parsing computer languages. Generally they try to resolve all ambiguities when parsing or abort the parse and throw an error. This means you either got nothing because there was an ...
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2answers
265 views

Are the meanings of «I know what you know» distinguishable?

First let me warn you I have no academic formation in Linguistics, I can't define that area well, so if this sounds off-topic, it probably is. "I know what you know" is an ambiguous sentence, ...
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1answer
214 views

Can Georgian verb stems start with a vowel?

I'm interested in the kinds of ambiguities which can be encountered when attempting to analyse the agglutinative verbs of Georgian into their component "slots". Georgian verbs may have an optional "...
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5answers
2k views

Phonological ambiguity that changes the syntactic structure

I'm looking for two sentences that have phonological/phonetic ambiguity (like John's feat, and John's feet), but with different syntactic structures. For example, "John's feat was a big deal" and "...
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2answers
3k views

Are there sentence boundary disambiguation algorithms which can handle punctuation errors with decent accuracy?

Most algorithms for splitting text into sentences which I've found rely on punctuation being correct. However, in many real world applications, there will be substantial numbers of punctuation errors (...
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1answer
520 views

Do Sign Languages have ambiguities?

I just noted that there exists a whole literature on Sign Language. I didn't even know there existed more than one... It's very interesting now. :) I then found computers can already interpret some ...
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3answers
2k views

Positive uses of vagueness and ambiguity in language

Background The two common explanations for vagueness/ambiguity in language come from Zipf and Chomsky, and both seem to inherently assume that vagueness/ambiguity do not serve a positive purpose. ...