Sunteți pe pagina 1din 1

Ambiguity

In ordinary language, ambiguous means having more than one interpretation,


or more than one meaning. However, this very general definition is of limited
use to pragmatic theorists because all words, phrases and sentences can be
interpreted differently in different contexts, but we do not want to say that
they are all ambiguous.
The definition usually used in linguistics and pragmatics is more precise:
A sequence of linguistic signs (written, spoken or signed) is ambiguous if and
only if it is assigned more than one meaning by the grammar. In other words,
ambiguous expressions are expressions that have more than one meaning in
the language, before (as it were) the further complication of interpretation
in context is brought in. Ambiguity in this strict sense of the term is a
contextindependent phenomenon.
In linguistics there are two kinds of ambiguity, structural ambiguity and
lexical ambiguity. Structural ambiguity is due to the syntactic structure of the
utterance, as in:
They are fighting fish.
Lexical ambiguity occurs when one form corresponds to more than one
word with different meanings, like bank in:
I pass the bank on the way to work.
Ambiguity is sometimes used as a cover term for both ambiguity as
described here and polysemy.