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    #1

    ambiguity

    1-We were joined by John in a blue van.
    2-John joined us in a blue van.

    Aren't the above sentences both ambiguous?
    Can't they have these two meanings:


    We were in a blue van and John came to that van and joined us there.
    We were somewhere and John drove up to us in a blue van and joined us.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
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    #2

    Re: ambiguity

    Hello Navi,

    You're right; but for me, this meaning:

    1. We were in a blue van and John came to that van and joined us there.

    doesn't immediately leap out.

    If you wanted to express #1, it seems to me, you would be more likely to say e.g.

    2. We were in a blue van when J. joined us.

    Best wishes,

    MrP
    ·
    Not a professional ESL teacher.
    ·


    • Join Date: May 2008
    • Posts: 810
    #3

    Re: ambiguity

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan View Post
    1-We were joined by John in a blue van.
    2-John joined us in a blue van.

    Aren't the above sentences both ambiguous?
    Can't they have these two meanings:


    We were in a blue van and John came to that van and joined us there.
    We were somewhere and John drove up to us in a blue van and joined us.
    Yes, neither specify whether you were, or weren't, in the blue van.

    Were you driving down the road on a journey with friends when John began following you in his blue van

    or

    were you all sat in a blue van when John arrived and got in the van with you?

    The sentences are ambiguous in their isolated form, but all words and sentences acquire their meaning,
    to some degree, from context: so in a sense they are hardly "ambiguous" and more deprived of context, and therefore deprived of what we would call "meaning".

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