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Thread: Ambiguity

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    #11

    Re: Ambiguity

    There are two isues at stake here:

    1. Some languages are more motivated when coining new words. For English gloves German for example uses hand+shoe= Handshoe. Another word is Krankenwagen for English "ambulance" from Krank "ill" and Wagen "car" related to English "wagon". This type of coinage helps the memory and is intuitive. English behaves differently and often prefers adoptions to coinage out of its own building blocks although words like football, sitting room or bedroom exist. In that sense football is easier to learn than soccer because it is clear (not a new word). Still football can lead to misunderstanding depending on converstaion partners (interlocutors).


    2. Ambiguity implies more than one definition which makes language more powerful than mathematical or IT language. It allows word play, jokes...Football in BE is thus a hyponym (superordinate) of soccer and rugby. Ambiguity is used in different disciplines with different meanings. What we need here is disambiguation.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 27-Dec-2008 at 18:04.


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    #12

    Re: Ambiguity

    Well, if linguists could modify languages voluntarily, they would probably agree to accept 'football' as a hyperonym in relation to 'soccer', 'rugby', etc. At least to me it sounds like a perfect solution. But I'm afraid it wouldn't find support among native speakers. Imagine you entering a class of British students and saying 'Let's go play football.' Do you think anybody would ask you 'Which football do you mean?' I'm sure everybody will know what game you suggest playing. Nor will there be any misunderstanding in an American class. The problem arises only when an American is talking to a European. So the ambiguity with this word results from cross-cultural differences. Each of these cultures has its own understanding of the word 'football'. Now let's go back to linguistics. How should we define the meaning of the word in question? My idea is that since this game was born in England we should accept the 'naive concept' that exists, and has always existed, in the minds of the Britons. As for 'American football', 'Gaelic football', etc., we should treat them as word combinations of dialectical nature that reflect the phenomena of the local cultures. I believe the word 'football' was borrowed from the British vocabulary stock for those games inadequately and people should have named those games differently. But we've got what we've got. Since nowadays AmE is an alternative to BrE, we have 'football' and 'American football.' In my understanding what 'American football' means is a subject of study within pragmatics, not semantics.

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    #13

    Re: Ambiguity

    In linguistics as with other sciences it is often difficult to be sure about the time, place and reason of a linguistic phenomenon. Football is in England a hypernym but because of the popularity of the game it has come to mean soccer in other cultures. of course even the British might get the message if you say football because it is simply internationally more popular. Still a word which originated in England doesn't necessarily mean it cannot change semantically particularly when borrowed. So I think, bearing in mind the popularity of the game and the motivated construction compared to soccer, it might relatively soon replace the word soccer. After all we communicate in Globish which used to be BE or AmE (my apologies). Ambiguity is thus predetermined. Of course you are right ambiguity, entailment, context, deixis, reference, inference and implicature are part of pragmatics.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 27-Dec-2008 at 23:11.


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    #14

    Re: Ambiguity

    Wonderful speech, huizhe! The audience is impressed.
    It would be stupid of me to compete with you in elocution, us being at different levels of the command of the language. Just a piece of advice. I think your problem is that you take things too seriously. We are talking here about all kinds of things, exchanging views, joking - and we are doing it for fun. So relax and enjoy yourself. I really liked all those epithets that you used in your post to describe my prose. Most enjoyable reading. You also mention some 'credentials'. Actually, we don't require any credentials here. Anybody can take part in discussions on this forum. Secondly, your words, not supported by any legal documents, are no credentials. And finally, believe me, you don't need any credentials. It's been nice talking to you.
    Last edited by RonBee; 28-Dec-2008 at 13:50. Reason: removed language (personal attack) aimed at another member

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    #15

    Re: Ambiguity

    Please note that any kind of language discussion is allowed here. Indeed, the purpose of the forum is the discussion of language. And everyone is welcome: students, teachers, and anything in-between. However, personal attacks are against the rules. (If you see anything that you think crosses the line report it to the moderators.)

    That is all.


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