Sunteți pe pagina 1din 14

Syntax: The Sentence Patterns of Language

Angela Stepancic

Ambiguity
Ambiguity- the term used to describe a word, phrase, or sentence with multiple meanings Structural Ambiguity- the phenomenon in which the same sequence of words has two or more meanings based on different phrase structure analyses e.g., He saw a boy with a telescope.

Lets take a look

He saw a boy with a telescope.

Is this the man seeing the boy? Or is this the boy that he sees?

Examples from the media:


STOLEN PAINTING FOUND BY TREE

SQUAD HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM

What could the original ambiguous headline be? While holding an ax, a farmer is injured by a cow. An enraged cow uses an ax to injure a farmer.

What could the original ambiguous headline be? Seven-foot tall doctors sue a hospital Seven podiatrists sue a hospital

Lets do some together


Please turn to page 166. Look at exercise number 3. Paraphrase each of the sentences in two ways to show the ambiguity.

Exercise #3
A. Dick finally decided on the boat. B. The professors appointment was shocking. C. The design has big squares and circles. D. That sheepdog is too hairy to eat. E. Could this be the invisible mans hair tonic?

Exercise #3 cont.
F. The governor is a dirty street fighter. G. I cannot recommend him too highly. H. Terry loves his wife and so do I. I. They said she would go yesterday. J. No smoking section available.

Cleaning it up
Sometimes ambiguous sentences can be fixed simply by adding more words for clarification: We painted the wall with cracks.

We painted the wall that was covered with cracks.

Cleaning it up
Sometimes ambiguous sentences can be fixed simply by adding more words for clarification: The raft floated down the river sank.

The raft that was floated down the river sank.

Cleaning it up
Sometimes ambiguous sentences can be fixed simply by adding more words for clarification: Fat people eat accumulates.

The fat that people eat accumulates in their bodies.

Conclusion
It is better to add than to leave confused and wondering.

It is better to add words to clarify the sentence than to leave the reader confused and wondering what you meant.

References
www.fun-with-words.com/ambiguities.html http://www.putlearningfirst.com/language/ Class textbook- Introduction to Language