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Thread: ambiguous

  1. #1
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Default ambiguous

    Is this sentence ambiguous:
    a-Did John or Jeff go there.

    I think it can mean:
    1-Did either John of Jack go there? Did one of the two go there? (The answer can be: "Yes, John did." or "Yes, Jeff did." or "No, neither of them went there." or "Both of them went there.")

    or:
    2-Did John go there or Jeff? Which of the two went there? (The answer can be; "Jeff did." or "John did.")

  2. #2
    gwendolinest Guest

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    I donít see any ambiguity with sentence 1. If at least one of the two men did go there, the answer would be yes. The answer can only be no if neither Jack nor Jeff went there.

    OTOH, sentence 2 sounds funny to me. Letís see what the others think about it.

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  3. #3
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Default

    Thanks Gwen,
    There has been a misunderstanding. I don't think sentence 1 is ambiguous either. The ambiguous sentence is a, ie. Did John or Jeff go there.

  4. #4
    gwendolinest Guest

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    Sorry, I was referring to sentence (a): Did John or Jeff go there? I canít see anything wrong with it.

    Okay?

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  5. #5
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Default

    OK. So you exclude one of the interpretations I gave. The question cannot mean which one of the two (John or Jeff) went there.

  6. #6
    gwendolinest Guest

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    No, the question is not which of the two went there. The question is whether one (or both) of them went there.

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  7. #7
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Thanks a lot Gwen.

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