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Sometimes there's is just no arguing that a term is ambiguous.

I offer "moped." Does that refer to a sad mood, or the popular transport of Bermuda?

Are there others?


RJA
 
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But they're not pronounced the same nor do they have the same etymology.

And of course, there are many others - the famous example probably being "set" which has well over a hundred different meanings


Richard English
 
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I would have thought a more unambiguous pair of homographs would be harder to find. I don't see how you could create a sentence in which the written word was ambiguous. If 'mope' were transitive you could say

* Moped by the railings, she looked downcast.

But it isn't, so you can't. I suppose you could sneak up on some kind of list:

? She patted her gloves, helmet, moped, sighed, and walked away.
 
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A word is typically ambiguous when the context in which it is used is ambiguous. Aput's final sentence is ambiguous because it really should be two lists: one of things associated bicycles, motorcycles, etc and the other with moods. With separate lists, "moped" would belong to one or the other and have a proper context.
 
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People who work in machine translation will tell you that every sentence is ambiguous and meaning is utterly dependent upon context. Even the simplest sentence can be interpreted in multiple ways. For example, "I saw a man" when written can be interpreted in two ways (to see vs. to saw) and when spoken can be interpreted in two additional ways ('A' man vs. 'B' man). Of course, we would almost always say it and interpret it as 'There exists a man who was seen by me' because the context of the other three alternatives is kind of bizarre.

Then again, there's a sign on the 880 freeway in Oakland that reads

--
A Street
Downtown
--
 
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Then again, there's a sign on the 880 freeway in Oakland that reads

--
A Street
Downtown
--


Yup, context is a whole lot of it; and, just down the same freeway is the even greater mystery: Stop casting porosity.

Nope, nobody really thinks about how leaky grammars are until they try to write one.
 
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Computer Scientists spend a lot of time trying to write grammars which are unambiguous. It is a difficult thing, considering this forces you to have to implement something exactly the way the grammar describes, with very little leeway.

Here is a very ambiguous sentence.

The read newspaper lay in the pile.

or

The red newspaper lay in the pile.

Hearing this, it is impossible to discern exactly which is meant without contextual clues.
 
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A "red newspaper" could be Izvestia or Pravda. Both are widely read.
 
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Computer Scientists spend a lot of time trying to write grammars which are unambiguous. It is a difficult thing, considering this forces you to have to implement something exactly the way the grammar describes, with very little leeway.

Well, if by "ambiguous grammar", you mean a context-free grammar that allows for more than one syntactic parsing for a string covered by the grammar, then I'd say it's rather trivial to write an unambiguous grammar, and it's done all the time for artificial languages (e.g., Java, XML). It's usually done with tricks like operator precedence or delimiters like parentheses or curly braces.) Writing an unambiguous, context-free grammar for an natural language (e.g., English) probably isn't possible. Other things like semantics and pragmatics come into play. Some linguists have said that it's possible to create a context-free grammar of English (e.g., Gazdar) and others have said that it's impossible (Chomsky).
 
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You're right. I'm not sure what I said had any relevance to the topic and I know there has to be a good "context-free" joke in here, but for the life of me I can't spot it. Ignore what I said and listen to jheem.
 
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I notice an advert on the side of a bus today for hair condtioner:
quote:
If your hair's dyed, this is heaven.
I don't know if a pun between "dyed" and "died" was intentional or not; I suspect the latter.

I may be wrong, but I think I saw that all hair (like nails) is dead, anyway.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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