Some cases of Ambiguity in English

Abstract

Ambiguity ,which is pronounced / ambiguiti/ .is the property of being ‘ambiguous’ ,where a word ,term , notation , sign symbol , phrase, sentence ,or any other form used for communication ,is called ambiguous if it can be interpreted in more than one way. Ambiguity, however ,is context –dependent ,i.e .the same linguistic item ,be it a word, phrase , or sentence may be ambiguous in one context and unambiguous in another . Ambiguity to Crystal (1988;15) is the reference to a word or sentence which expresses more than one meaning and this reference has to do with linguistics .In this regard ,several types of ambiguity can be recognized; these include grammatical (or structural ) ambiguity in a phrase like “new houses and shops “ which could be analyzed as either “new{houses and shops } “ ,i.e . both are new , or “{new houses }and shops” ,i.e.’ only’ the houses are new . Another major type of ambiguity is the semantic (or lexical) ambiguity which might be viewed in a sentence like “Visiting speakers can be awful “,which is interpreted in two different ways .The first interpretation is ‘It is awful to visit speakers “whereas the second one is “Speakers who visit are awful “ . Another definition of ambiguity is forwarded by Hartmann and Stork (1976;11) who state that ambiguity is a construction which admits more than one interpretation . An instance is “Patent medicines are sold by frightening people” the ambiguity arises due to the fact that we cannot tell whether the sense intended is ‘Patent medicines are sold by putting fear into people “ or “ Patent medicines are sold by people who are frightening.