The test has some weaknesses. In actual statements, intonation can be used to indicate a claim, or any question (“Ben wanted to eat that?”) associated with “Ben wanted to eat this” results in insufficiency, even if the demonstrative has the same value in both cases – although we can try to fix things by requiring the test to be performed with a common intonation (at least in oral uses of the test!). In this sense, the test will judge demonstrative and indexic elements as ambiguous, as they are known to be generally reducible non-connective. Similar concerns relate to polysemy and ambiguity, to which the reduction of conjunction may be too sensitive (see Viebahn (2016) for relevant considerations). A standard but controversial assumption is that LFs are the entry to semantic theory, not the phonological/orthographic objects we hear and see. (see May 1985). So, while LFs are not ambiguous, the expressions we use and claim are often the case. If this assumption turns out to be wrong, it will be much more difficult to find the source of some ambiguity. Syntactic ambiguity occurs when a sentence can have two (or more) different meanings due to the structure of the sentence – its syntax. This is often due to an amending expression, such as a prepositional sentence, the application of which is unclear.

“He ate the cookies on the couch,” for example, could mean eating the cookies that were on the couch (as opposed to the ones that were on the table), or it could mean he was sitting on the couch when he ate the cookies. “To enter, you will need a $10 entrance fee or your voucher and driver`s license.” This could mean that you will need ten dollars OR BOTH your voucher and license. Or it could mean you need your license AND you need ten dollars OR a coupon. Only rewriting the sentence or adjusting the corresponding punctuation can resolve syntactic ambiguity. [3] For the term and theoretical results on syntactic ambiguity in artificial formal languages (such as computer programming languages), see Ambiguous Grammar. Philosophers` interest in ambiguity comes from several sources, ranging from an intense interest in logical representation to pragmatic, political, and ethical concerns about how we use language for communication. An example of the first concerns about the regulation of natural language in formal logic: arguments that may seem good because of their linguistic form can indeed go very wrong if the words or sentences involved are ambiguous. For example, it would logically be foolish to conclude real sentences (when reading) “All singles are necessarily single” and “Adam was single” that Adam was necessarily single. In other words, philosophers have often perceived ambiguity as the kind of thing to avoid and eradicate when doing their serious philosophical business. Frege cared enough about the phenomenon that he did not allow a variety of meanings in a perfect language. An example of the second example can be found in the infamous Smith vs. United States, in which the law established that a weapon used in the main question was whether the law prohibiting penalties for the use of a firearm to commit a crime would be applied to weapons used as a means of drug exchange.

In some cases, appropriate evidence can be used to identify things where the description in the will is ambiguous. One can worry about this test, especially in terms of the ability to distinguish generality from the meaning of ambiguity. It would not be surprising to discover that other languages lexicalize “uncle” in two different words (in Croatian, there is no one-word translation of “uncle”: “stric” means brother of the father and “oujak” means an uncle on the mother`s side). Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that “uncle” in English is ambiguous. Why shouldn`t language users create words to designate specific meanings that make sense in another language? Metonymy is the designation of an entity named after another entity but closely related (for example, the use of “wheels” to refer to a car, or “Wall Street” to refer to the stock exchanges on that street, or even the entire U.S. financial sector). In the modern vocabulary of critical semiotics, metonymy includes any potentially ambiguous word substitution based on contextual contiguity (close to each other) or a function or process that an object performs, such as “soft driving” to refer to a beautiful car. Metonymic misunderstandings are considered the main mechanism of linguistic humor. Now that we have distinct types of ambiguities, we can reasonably ask ourselves how to know when a term or expression contains ambiguity.

The answer can be disappointing – there are tests and considerations, but no fixed answers and probably a lot depends on what the “best theories” in linguistics look like in linguistics, etc. in the end. Nevertheless, we can make some progress. The canonical source of these tests is “Ambiguity Tests and How to Fail Them” by Zwicky and Sadock (1975). An interesting case of ambiguity comes from the ellipse. The following is clearly ambiguous: A sentence can be ambiguous in that it corresponds to different syntactic structures. The classic example: (It is useful to give a paraphrase later to highlight the different meanings). Tests can be used to detect lexical, structural and thematic ambiguities. In the context, it seems terribly bad to me. However, it does not seem that the word “Smith” is ambiguous when it refers sometimes to Jones, sometimes to Smith. However, the statement of the word “Smith” may very well be used with referential intentions that lead to ambiguities in the statement.

Ambiguity in the writing style of a function should not be confused with a multivalued function that can (and should) be defined deterministically and unambiguously. Some special functions still do not have established ratings. Typically, converting to another notation requires scaling the resulting argument or value. Sometimes the same name of the function is used, which leads to confusion. Examples of such undervalued functions: Some terms are ambiguous between a generic and a non-generic reading, and the sentences in which they play are also ambiguous between the two readings. For example: Aristotle proposes an ambiguity test: try to construct a definition that includes both meanings, and postulate ambiguity only if you fail.