Types of ambiguity:
Linguistic theorists have identified 2 main types of ambiguity:
Lexical Ambiguity: Also known as Semantic ambiguity, Lexical ambiguity is when a word has more than one generally accepted meaning. Example: Drunk gets nine months in violin case.
Syntactic Ambiguity: Also known as structural ambiguity, Syntactic ambiguity is when the role a word plays in a sentence is unclear. Example: Squad helps dog bite victim.
Other types of ambiguity have also been identified by linguists. They generally exist as subtypes of Syntactic or Lexical ambiguity.
Scope ambiguity: It is under debate whether this type of ambiguity is a form of syntactic or lexical ambiguity, or whether it represents a unique class of ambiguity. An example of this type of ambiguity is: Prostitutes appeal to Pope.
Phonological ambiguity: This is a subtype of Lexical ambiguity that occurs when a set of sounds can be interpreted in more than one way. In essence, it is a type of ambiguity that arises at the level of the surface structure rather than the deep structure. Example: psychotherapist = psycho therapist.
Punctuation ambiguity: This can be considered as a mix of syntactic and lexical ambiguity. The ambiguity in this case is also in the surface structure rather than the deep structure. Example: I want you to notice your hand me the glass.
Grouping ambiguity: This is a type of Syntactic ambiguity that is ambiguous because it is unclear whether a modifier in a sentence modifies only one or several objects. Example: Hand me the red and yellow balls. (Hand me the red ball and the yellow ball, Hand me the balls that are red and yellow)
purple_curtain writes about a type of syntactic ambiguity known as ambiguity of cross-reference, which is essentially an ambiguity of referent when using pronouns. Example: Bob kicked Tom, and he broke his leg.
On the importance of correct punctuation:
An English professor wrote the words, "woman without her man is a savage" on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.
The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is a savage."
The women wrote: "Woman: without her, man is a savage."
Dear John: I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours? Gloria
Dear John: I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be? Yours, Gloria
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Ambiguities > Ambiguous headlines
Here are two favorite books:
Eats, Shites & Leaves.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
All the best.