37

Yes there are. Examples include Greenlandic and Cree. It's not exactly what you asked for, as it doesn't depend on whether it's the last antecedent, or second-to-last antecedent. But in these languages, 3rd person pronouns are in two categories; proximate and obviative (obviative is sometimes called fourth person). The proximate one is one that the ...


13

Short answer There is a favoured structure for storing ambiguous parse trees. It is usually called a shared forest, and it is simply a grammar that generates only the sentence parsed with exactly the same parse trees as the grammar of the language (up to a renaming homomorphisme for the non-terminal symbols). This applies to Context-Free grammars, but also ...


13

In some sign languages, pointing is used as a pronoun. It makes different distinctions to the ones made by English pronouns. In English, he, she, this, that and it are different. He and him are different. These distinctions are not made in the sign languages of English speaking countries. Instead, you can point directly at a person or thing instead of using ...


11

Has anyone attempted to quantify the relative ambiguity of languages and to rank them? Your timing is excellent! The most comprehensive study I've seen on this topic was published less than a week ago (at the time of writing). The first question is, what is ambiguity? Pretty much every sentence has some sort of ambiguity in it: if I say "I like cats", does ...


11

Aside from obviative third person pronouns mentioned by OmarL, some languages have what are known as 'reflexive' pronouns. These pronouns refer directly back to the subject of the clause that they are part of (or the parent clause if they are the subject of their clause), and thus can either partially (if their use is optional) or completely (if they are ...


10

Aristophanes (Knights 21–26), much earlier than the Philogelos, punned on repeating molōmen auto, molōmen auto "let us go, that" ending up sounding like the taboo automolōmen "let us desert". Remember, Aristophanes in Frogs mocks Euripides for adopting new-fangled notions from the sophists, like "word". As Willi's monograph on Aristophanes' language points ...


10

It is all about the spelling conventions in those languages. "Latin does not follow spelling changes" because the alphabet Latin uses was conceived specially for the Latin language, Latin spelling was pretty much phonetic so no spelling adjustments are needed when the form of the word changes. Spanish and Italian use the Latin alphabet which lacks ...


7

There doesn't seem to be an accepted name for this type of bilingual punning. "Bilingual sentence" might seem appropriate, but it would ambiguously describe both the phenomenon of sentences that have the same meaning in two languages, and the phenomenon of two sequences of sound (or graphemes) coincidentally being two unrelated valid sentences in different ...


7

Here's how such a sentence boundary algorithm could be built. The crucial thing is to come up with sequences of words (n-grams) that have a high likelihood of occurring at the end of a sentence or at the start of a sentence and a small likelihood of occurring within a sentence. A list of these n-grams could be compiled with a large corpus such as the ...


6

As you correctly note, ambiguity is rampant in natural language and whatever data structure is used for parsing in ambiguous grammars must somehow represent a large number of possible derivations. Despite this, it's not feasible to represent every possible derivation as an explicit parse tree, because the number of possible bracketings of a string is its ...


5

Earley parser is one example of chart parser, also called dynamic programming parser. There are many other kinds such as the CYK parser, the GLR and GLL parser, and more. The whole point of chart parsing is to build a unique chart that will mimic all possible parsing computations, since there may be exponentially many (or even infinitely many in ...


5

Being a native speaker of Czech, which is quite close to Polish, I think ambiguity can be avoided, or at least reduced, to some extent. As for your Polish sentence, it would probably be wrong to use the genitive. In Czech, we would simply leave out the preposition, and I thought the same could be done in Polish (which I can speak a little, coming from a ...


5

Languages per se are not ambiguous or not ambiguous. Rather, instances of language - sentences, phrases, words... - are. All natural languages evolved to allow varying degrees of ambiguity/specificity, which speakers then choose for the situation. Consistently forced disambiguation would be a highly undesirable property. Ambiguity can be syntactic but ...


5

I'd say "implicature" or "using Grice's Maxims" (specifically, the maxim of quantity, I think)


4

In Polish, ambiguity in that case is not existent. I killed the man with a spoon (man with spoon) - Zabiłem człowieka z łyżką I killed the man with a spoon (using a spoon) - Zabiłem człowieka łyżką Both of the polish sentences are completely unambiguous. Instrument of an action is expressed always in the instrumental case, with no preposition at all. ...


4

The answer is, the case system can help avoid ambiguity, but it is not a silver bullet. From the functional standpoint, the example sentence is actually two distinct phrases: killed (a man who has a spoon); (killed using a spoon) a man; Each of them convey a different message and therefore they can be represented with two distinct syntax trees. It is only ...


4

Let's say that by "Boolean logic" you mean "Formal logic", and, moreover, let's restrict your question to the example you are commenting about, rather than to the whole logic. A first, obvious, answer is no, since, by definition, no natural language is a formal language, and ambiguity is always to be taken into account. However, your ...


4

Syntactic ambiguity can imply semantic ambiguity: — He caught the bird in his pyjamas. — What was the bird doing in his pyjamas? (Where does the preposition phrase attach?) But whether you can have syntactic ambiguity without entailing semantic ambiguity may depend on how you'd represent the sentence semantically. Here's one intuitive example: —...


4

One feature that disambiguates your specific example is logophoricity. A logophoric pronoun refers to the speaker/thinker/writer/feeler in the higher clause. Ewe is a Niger-Congo language with this feature, example taken from the Wikipedia article. a. Kofi be yè-dzo Kofi say LOG-leave Kofiₐ said that heₐ left. b. Kofi be e-dzo Kofi say ...


3

Yes, cognitive and construction grammars do take ambiguity into account. However, they have to give up a lot of the formal properties of traditional constituency and dependency grammars. It resolves the particular ambiguities you mention by not having a notion of things like constituents, dependents or complements. It simply treats all surface ...


3

Some languages would have ambiguity between instrument and attributive possessum (and possibly also comitative `I went with a friend'), and some won't. This is not strictly dependent on case. For instance, the sentence you give will be ambiguous in German (1) Er ermordete dem Mann mit der Gabel. he.NOM killed DEF.ACC man with DEF.DAT fork `He killed the man ...


3

One piece of ancient wordplay is the statement attributed to the oracle at Dodona: Ibis redibis nunquam per bella peribis which, depending on how you group the words, can be taken to bear either of two meanings: You will go, you will return, never will you die in battle You will go, you will never return, you will die in battle


3

I believe the first recorded occurrence of a pun in written text was around 2100 BC, in the language of the Sumerians. In the epic of Gilgamesh when Utnapishtim warns the ruler of his city about the flood, he does so by saying that the sky will rain "kibtu (corn)" and "kukku (sound of kernels hitting the ground)" as a pun on "kibitu (misery)" and "kukkû (...


3

I do not know that I have a proper answer, but I would like to summarize my findings. Recall that I am not a native speaker, and it may impact my perception of the language. Also, I am not taking in consideration other aspects that may help disambiguation, such as prosody. Here is the original example, and two others I found, with different conjunctions: ...


3

I would submit that prosody could play a role in disambiguating the two readings, at least in English. As a native speaker, if I heard someone say (out of the blue): 1) I know what you know. I would interpret it as, "I have knowledge about the same things you have knowledge about." On the other hand, if I heard: 2a) I know what you know. or 2b) I ...


3

This kind of phonological ambiguity is frequent enough, also because sound may be distorted. Actually, it has been considered important enough in speech processing that a specific representational device was created for it. It is the so called "word lattice" used to represent in a compressed way the various sequences of words that could correspond to the ...


3

The two senses are specific and non-specific: Specific: A certain person, who happens to be an employee, must leave. ("Employee" is not in the scope of "must".) Non-specific: There is a requirement that the person who leaves be an employee. ("Employee" is in the scope of "must".) Paul Postal observed that the vowel of "some" can be reduced to schwa only ...


3

There are two sources of ambiguity in the sentence: the scope of every- and the base position of the causal interrogative pronoun Why. The first of these sources is mentioned in the question: either everyone present has the same one father (the referential reading of everyone's father) or the father varies for each person present (the bound variable reading ...


3

This is not the exact answer to the question, but I think it is still relevant. The Czech language still has this particular ambiguity the same as English in this particular sentence, but I think that since you asked about sentence ambiguity it is relevant of me to point out that Czech sentences are unambiguous when speaking in similar certain contexts. An ...


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