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Ambiguity by Susanne Winkler

By Susanne Winkler

This quantity uncovers a good secret approximately language: why do we converse so successfully although ambiguity is pervasive? Conversely, how do audio system use ambiguity to accomplish a selected target? solutions to those questions are supplied in contributions from diversified educational fields: (psycho)linguistics, literary feedback, rhetoric, theology, media reviews, law.

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Constitutive ambiguity is understood as a characteristic and productive feature of communication. The authors propose that a thorough exploration of this phenomenon opens up a fundamental understanding of communication. Though it is considered a key issue in the humanities, the authors do not regard constitutive ambiguity as a mistake to be pragmatically rectified. In its inevitability, constitutive ambiguity rather unlocks a field of possibilities, the use of which is apt to even provide evolutionary advantages.

This reading is suggested by the graphemic representation (spelling) of Jamaica? However, under this interpretation the response of the first speaker is incoherent. k|ə/ could also be understood as the assimilated form of /dɪdju:’meɪk hə:/ Did you make her? Here we clearly see that the ambiguous grapheme-phoneme correspondence (or near homophony) can be employed strategically in fictional texts to achieve a comic effect. The case is also a good example of the ambiguity created by the double communication of literary texts.

The dominant albeit surprising reading is the time adverbial reading which can be paraphrased as whoever speaks two languages fluently, will get ill with Alzheimer’s disease later in life. The reader must reanalyze this reading upon parsing the comparative clause als Einsprachige (than monolinguals). The disambiguated reading is whoever speaks two languages fluently will get ill with Alzheimer’s disease later than monolinguals. Temporary ambiguities as in (5) have been intensively studied in the field of psycholinguistics (see Stolterfoht, this volume, for processing ambiguities of manner adverbs in relation to syntactic position).

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