Ambiguity

Ambiguity is a type of meaning in which a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations plausible. A common aspect of ambiguity is uncertainty. It is thus an attribute of any idea or statement whose intended meaning cannot be definitively resolved according to a rule or process with a finite number of steps. (The ambi- part of the term reflects an idea of "two", as in "two meanings".)

The concept of ambiguity is generally contrasted with vagueness. In ambiguity, specific and distinct interpretations are permitted (although some may not be immediately obvious), whereas with information that is vague, it is difficult to form any interpretation at the desired level of specificity.

Context may play a role in resolving ambiguity. For example, the same piece of information may be ambiguous in one context and unambiguous in another.

Alice 05a-1116x1492
Sir John Tenniel's illustration of the Caterpillar for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is noted for its ambiguous central figure, whose head can be viewed as being a human male's face with a pointed nose and chin or as being the head end of an actual caterpillar, with the first two right "true" legs visible.[1]

Linguistic forms

Lexical ambiguity is contrasted with semantic ambiguity. The former represents a choice between a finite number of known and meaningful context-dependent interpretations. The latter represents a choice between any number of possible interpretations, none of which may have a standard agreed-upon meaning. This form of ambiguity is closely related to vagueness.

Linguistic ambiguity can be a problem in law, because the interpretation of written documents and oral agreements is often of paramount importance.

Structural analysis of an ambiguous spanish sentence
Structural analysis of an ambiguous Spanish sentence:
Pepe vio a Pablo enfurecido
Interpretation 1: When Pepe was angry, then he saw Pablo
Interpretation 2: Pepe saw that Pablo was angry.
Here, the syntactic tree in figure represents interpretation 2.

Lexical Ambiguity

The lexical ambiguity of a word or phrase pertains to its having more than one meaning in the language to which the word belongs.[2] "Meaning" here refers to whatever should be captured by a good dictionary. For instance, the word "bank" has several distinct lexical definitions, including "financial institution" and "edge of a river". Or consider "apothecary". One could say "I bought herbs from the apothecary". This could mean one actually spoke to the apothecary (pharmacist) or went to the apothecary (pharmacy).

The context in which an ambiguous word is used often makes it evident which of the meanings is intended. If, for instance, someone says "I buried $100 in the bank", most people would not think someone used a shovel to dig in the mud. However, some linguistic contexts do not provide sufficient information to disambiguate a used word.

Lexical ambiguity can be addressed by algorithmic methods that automatically associate the appropriate meaning with a word in context, a task referred to as word sense disambiguation.

The use of multi-defined words requires the author or speaker to clarify their context, and sometimes elaborate on their specific intended meaning (in which case, a less ambiguous term should have been used). The goal of clear concise communication is that the receiver(s) have no misunderstanding about what was meant to be conveyed. An exception to this could include a politician whose "weasel words" and obfuscation are necessary to gain support from multiple constituents with mutually exclusive conflicting desires from their candidate of choice. Ambiguity is a powerful tool of political science.

More problematic are words whose senses express closely related concepts. "Good", for example, can mean "useful" or "functional" (That's a good hammer), "exemplary" (She's a good student), "pleasing" (This is good soup), "moral" (a good person versus the lesson to be learned from a story), "righteous", etc. " I have a good daughter" is not clear about which sense is intended. The various ways to apply prefixes and suffixes can also create ambiguity ("unlockable" can mean "capable of being unlocked" or "impossible to lock").

Syntactic Ambiguity

Semantic ambiguity happens when a sentence contains an ambiguous word or phrase—a word or phrase that has more than one meaning. In "We saw her duck" (example due to Richard Nordquist), the word "duck" can refer either

  1. to the person's bird (the noun "duck", modified by the possessive pronoun "her"), or
  2. to a motion she made (the verb "duck", the subject of which is the objective pronoun "her", object of the verb "saw").[3]

Syntactic ambiguity arises when a sentence can have two (or more) different meanings because of the structure of the sentence—its syntax. This is often due to a modifying expression, such as a prepositional phrase, the application of which is unclear. "He ate the cookies on the couch", for example, could mean that he ate those cookies that were on the couch (as opposed to those that were on the table), or it could mean that he was sitting on the couch when he ate the cookies. "To get in, you will need an entrance fee of $10 or your voucher and your drivers' license." This could mean that you need EITHER ten dollars OR BOTH your voucher and your license. Or it could mean that you need your license AND you need EITHER ten dollars OR a voucher. Only rewriting the sentence, or placing appropriate punctuation can resolve a syntactic ambiguity.[3] For the notion of, and theoretic results about, syntactic ambiguity in artificial, formal languages (such as computer programming languages), see Ambiguous grammar.

Spoken language can contain many more types of ambiguities which are called phonological ambiguities, where there is more than one way to compose a set of sounds into words. For example, "ice cream" and "I scream". Such ambiguity is generally resolved according to the context. A mishearing of such, based on incorrectly resolved ambiguity, is called a mondegreen.


Metonymy involves the use of the name of a subcomponent part as an abbreviation, or jargon, for the name of the whole object (for example "wheels" to refer to a car, or "flowers" to refer to beautiful offspring, an entire plant, or a collection of blooming plants). In modern vocabulary, critical semiotics,[9] metonymy encompasses any potentially ambiguous word substitution that is based on contextual contiguity (located close together), or a function or process that an object performs, such as "sweet ride" to refer to a nice car. Metonym miscommunication is considered a primary mechanism of linguistic humor.

Philosophy

Philosophers (and other users of logic) spend a lot of time and effort searching for and removing (or intentionally adding) ambiguity in arguments because it can lead to incorrect conclusions and can be used to deliberately conceal bad arguments. For example, a politician might say, "I oppose taxes which hinder economic growth", an example of a glittering generality. Some will think he opposes taxes in general because they hinder economic growth. Others may think he opposes only those taxes that he believes will hinder economic growth. In writing, the sentence can be rewritten to reduce possible misinterpretation, either by adding a comma after "taxes" (to convey the first sense) or by changing "which" to "that" (to convey the second sense) or by rewriting it in other ways. The devious politician hopes that each constituent will interpret the statement in the most desirable way, and think the politician supports everyone's opinion. However, the opposite can also be true – an opponent can turn a positive statement into a bad one if the speaker uses ambiguity (intentionally or not). The logical fallacies of amphiboly and equivocation rely heavily on the use of ambiguous words and phrases.

In continental philosophy (particularly phenomenology and existentialism), there is much greater tolerance of ambiguity, as it is generally seen as an integral part of the human condition. Martin Heidegger argued that the relation between the subject and object is ambiguous, as is the relation of mind and body, and part and whole.[3] In Heidegger's phenomenology, Dasein is always in a meaningful world, but there is always an underlying background for every instance of signification. Thus, although some things may be certain, they have little to do with Dasein's sense of care and existential anxiety, e.g., in the face of death. In calling his work Being and Nothingness an "essay in phenomenological ontology" Jean-Paul Sartre follows Heidegger in defining the human essence as ambiguous, or relating fundamentally to such ambiguity. Simone de Beauvoir tries to base an ethics on Heidegger's and Sartre's writings (The Ethics of Ambiguity), where she highlights the need to grapple with ambiguity: "as long as philosophers and they [men] have thought, most of them have tried to mask it...And the ethics which they have proposed to their disciples have always pursued the same goal. It has been a matter of eliminating the ambiguity by making oneself pure inwardness or pure externality, by escaping from the sensible world or being engulfed by it, by yielding to eternity or enclosing oneself in the pure moment." Ethics cannot be based on the authoritative certainty given by mathematics and logic, or prescribed directly from the empirical findings of science. She states: "Since we do not succeed in fleeing it, let us, therefore, try to look the truth in the face. Let us try to assume our fundamental ambiguity. It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our life that we must draw our strength to live and our reason for acting". Other continental philosophers suggest that concepts such as life, nature, and sex are ambiguous. Corey Anton has argued that we cannot be certain what is separate from or unified with something else: language, he asserts, divides what is not, in fact, separate. Following Ernest Becker, he argues that the desire to 'authoritatively disambiguate' the world and existence has led to numerous ideologies and historical events such as genocide. On this basis, he argues that ethics must focus on 'dialectically integrating opposites' and balancing tension, rather than seeking a priori validation or certainty. Like the existentialists and phenomenologists, he sees the ambiguity of life as the basis of creativity.

Literature and Rhetoric

In literature and rhetoric, ambiguity can be a useful tool. Groucho Marx's classic joke depends on a grammatical ambiguity for its humor, for example: "Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I'll never know". Songs and poetry often rely on ambiguous words for artistic effect, as in the song title "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" (where "blue" can refer to the color, or to sadness).

In the narrative, ambiguity can be introduced in several ways: motive, plot, character. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the latter type of ambiguity with notable effect in his novel The Great Gatsby.

Mathematical notation

Mathematical notation, widely used in physics and other sciences, avoids many ambiguities compared to expression in natural language. However, for various reasons, several lexical, syntactic and semantic ambiguities remain.

Names of functions

The ambiguity in the style of writing a function should not be confused with a multivalued function, which can (and should) be defined in a deterministic and unambiguous way. Several special functions still do not have established notations. Usually, the conversion to another notation requires to scale the argument or the resulting value; sometimes, the same name of the function is used, causing confusions. Examples of such underestablished functions:

Expressions

Ambiguous expressions often appear in physical and mathematical texts. It is common practice to omit multiplication signs in mathematical expressions. Also, it is common to give the same name to a variable and a function, for example, . Then, if one sees , there is no way to distinguish whether it means multiplied by , or function evaluated at argument equal to . In each case of use of such notations, the reader is supposed to be able to perform the deduction and reveal the true meaning.

Creators of algorithmic languages try to avoid ambiguities. Many algorithmic languages (C++ and Fortran) require the character * as symbol of multiplication. The Wolfram Language used in Mathematica allows the user to omit the multiplication symbol, but requires square brackets to indicate the argument of a function; square brackets are not allowed for grouping of expressions. Fortran, in addition, does not allow use of the same name (identifier) for different objects, for example, function and variable; in particular, the expression f=f(x) is qualified as an error.

The order of operations may depend on the context. In most programming languages, the operations of division and multiplication have equal priority and are executed from left to right. Until the last century, many editorials assumed that multiplication is performed first, for example, is interpreted as ; in this case, the insertion of parentheses is required when translating the formulas to an algorithmic language. In addition, it is common to write an argument of a function without parenthesis, which also may lead to ambiguity. Sometimes, one uses italics letters to denote elementary functions. In the scientific journal style, the expression means product of variables , , and , although in a slideshow, it may mean .

A comma in subscripts and superscripts sometimes is omitted; it is also ambiguous notation. If it is written , the reader should guess from the context, does it mean a single-index object, evaluated while the subscript is equal to product of variables , and , or it is indication to a trivalent tensor. The writing of instead of may mean that the writer either is stretched in space (for example, to reduce the publication fees) or aims to increase number of publications without considering readers. The same may apply to any other use of ambiguous notations.

Subscripts are also used to denote the argument to a function, as in .

Examples of potentially confusing ambiguous mathematical expressions

, which could be understood to mean either or . In addition, may mean , as means (see tetration).

, which by convention means , though it might be thought to mean , since means .

, which arguably should mean but would commonly be understood to mean .

Notations in quantum optics and quantum mechanics

It is common to define the coherent states in quantum optics with and states with fixed number of photons with . Then, there is an "unwritten rule": the state is coherent if there are more Greek characters than Latin characters in the argument, and photon state if the Latin characters dominate. The ambiguity becomes even worse, if is used for the states with certain value of the coordinate, and means the state with certain value of the momentum, which may be used in books on quantum mechanics. Such ambiguities easily lead to confusions, especially if some normalized adimensional, dimensionless variables are used. Expression may mean a state with single photon, or the coherent state with mean amplitude equal to 1, or state with momentum equal to unity, and so on. The reader is supposed to guess from the context.

Ambiguous terms in physics and mathematics

Some physical quantities do not yet have established notations; their value (and sometimes even dimension, as in the case of the Einstein coefficients), depends on the system of notations. Many terms are ambiguous. Each use of an ambiguous term should be preceded by the definition, suitable for a specific case. Just like Ludwig Wittgenstein states in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: "... Only in the context of a proposition has a name meaning."[5]

A highly confusing term is gain. For example, the sentence "the gain of a system should be doubled", without context, means close to nothing.
It may mean that the ratio of the output voltage of an electric circuit to the input voltage should be doubled.
It may mean that the ratio of the output power of an electric or optical circuit to the input power should be doubled.
It may mean that the gain of the laser medium should be doubled, for example, doubling the population of the upper laser level in a quasi-two level system (assuming negligible absorption of the ground-state).

The term intensity is ambiguous when applied to light. The term can refer to any of irradiance, luminous intensity, radiant intensity, or radiance, depending on the background of the person using the term.

Also, confusions may be related with the use of atomic percent as measure of concentration of a dopant, or resolution of an imaging system, as measure of the size of the smallest detail which still can be resolved at the background of statistical noise. See also Accuracy and precision and its talk.

The Berry paradox arises as a result of systematic ambiguity in the meaning of terms such as "definable" or "nameable". Terms of this kind give rise to vicious circle fallacies. Other terms with this type of ambiguity are: satisfiable, true, false, function, property, class, relation, cardinal, and ordinal.[6]

Mathematical interpretation of ambiguity

Necker cube and impossible cube
The Necker cube and impossible cube, an underdetermined and overdetermined object, respectively.

In mathematics and logic, ambiguity can be considered to be an instance of the logical concept of underdetermination—for example, leaves open what the value of X is—while its opposite is a self-contradiction, also called inconsistency, paradoxicalness, or oxymoron, or in mathematics an inconsistent system—such as , which has no solution.

Logical ambiguity and self-contradiction is analogous to visual ambiguity and impossible objects, such as the Necker cube and impossible cube, or many of the drawings of M. C. Escher.[7]

Constructed language

Some languages have been created with the intention of avoiding ambiguity, especially lexical ambiguity. Lojban and Loglan are two related languages which have been created for this, focusing chiefly on syntactic ambiguity as well. The languages can be both spoken and written. These languages are intended to provide a greater technical precision over big natural languages, although historically, such attempts at language improvement have been criticized. Languages composed from many diverse sources contain much ambiguity and inconsistency. The many exceptions to syntax and semantic rules are time-consuming and difficult to learn.

Christianity and Judaiesm

Christianity and Judaism employ the concept of paradox synonymously with 'ambiguity'. Many Christians and Jews endorse Rudolf Otto's description of the sacred as 'mysterium tremendum et fascinans', the awe-inspiring mystery which fascinates humans.[dubious – discuss] The orthodox Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton regularly employed paradox to tease out the meanings in common concepts which he found ambiguous or to reveal meaning often overlooked or forgotten in common phrases. (The title of one of his most famous books, Orthodoxy, itself employing such a paradox.)

Music

In music, pieces or sections which confound expectations and may be or are interpreted simultaneously in different ways are ambiguous, such as some polytonality, polymeter, other ambiguous meters or rhythms, and ambiguous phrasing, or (Stein 2005, p. 79) any aspect of music. The music of Africa is often purposely ambiguous. To quote Sir Donald Francis Tovey (1935, p. 195), "Theorists are apt to vex themselves with vain efforts to remove uncertainty just where it has a high aesthetic value."

Visual art

Necker cube
The Necker cube, an ambiguous image

In visual art, certain images are visually ambiguous, such as the Necker cube, which can be interpreted in two ways. Perceptions of such objects remain stable for a time, then may flip, a phenomenon called multistable perception. The opposite of such ambiguous images are impossible objects.

Pictures or photographs may also be ambiguous at the semantic level: the visual image is unambiguous, but the meaning and narrative may be ambiguous: is a certain facial expression one of excitement or fear, for instance?

Computer science

In computer science, the SI prefixes kilo-, mega- and giga- were historically used in certain contexts to mean either the first three powers of 1024 (1024, 10242 and 10243) contrary to the metric system in which these units unambiguously mean one thousand, one million, and one billion. This usage is particularly prevalent with electronic memory devices (e.g. DRAM) addressed directly by a binary machine register where a decimal interpretation makes no practical sense.

Subsequently, the Ki, Mi, and Gi prefixes were introduced so that binary prefixes could be written explicitly, also rendering k, M, and G unambiguous in texts conforming to the new standard — this led to a new ambiguity in engineering documents lacking outward trace of the binary prefixes (necessarily indicating the new style) as to whether the usage of k, M, and G remains ambiguous (old style) or not (new style). Note also that 1 M (where M is ambiguously 1,000,000 or 1,048,576) is less uncertain than the engineering value 1.0e6 (defined to designate the interval 950,000 to 1,050,000), and that as non-volatile storage devices began to commonly exceed 1 GB in capacity (where the ambiguity begins to routinely impact the second significant digit), GB and TB almost always mean 109 and 1012 bytes.

See also

References

  1. ^ "And do you see its long nose and chin? At least, they look exactly like a nose and chin, that is don't they? But they really are two of its legs. You know a Caterpillar has got quantities of legs: you can see more of them, further down." Carroll, Lewis. The Nursery "Alice". Dover Publications (1966), p 27.
  2. ^ Steven L. Small; Garrison W Cottrell; Michael K Tanenhaus (22 October 2013). Lexical Ambiguity Resolution: Perspective from Psycholinguistics, Neuropsychology and Artificial Intelligence. Elsevier Science. ISBN 978-0-08-051013-2.
  3. ^ a b Critical Thinking, 10th ed., Ch 3, Moore, Brooke N. and Parker, Richard. McGraw-Hill, 2012
  4. ^ a b Abramovits, M.; Stegun, I. Handbook on mathematical functions. p. 228.
  5. ^ Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1999). Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Dover Publications Inc. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-486-40445-5.
  6. ^ Russell/Whitehead, Principia Mathematica
  7. ^ Goldstein, Laurence (1996). "Reflexivity, Contradiction, Paradox and M. C. Escher". Leonardo. 29 (4): 299–308. doi:10.2307/1576313. JSTOR 1576313

External links

Ambiguity (horse)

Ambiguity (1950 – after 1971) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare best known for winning the 1953 Epsom Oaks. After finishing unplaced on her only start as a two-year-old she improved to become a top-class stayer in 1953. She won the White Rose Stakes, Oaks Stakes and Jockey Club Cup as well as finishing second in the Cheshire Oaks and the Oxfordshire Stakes. After her retirement from racing she had some success as a broodmare.

Amplitude

The amplitude of a periodic variable is a measure of its change over a single period (such as time or spatial period). There are various definitions of amplitude (see below), which are all functions of the magnitude of the difference between the variable's extreme values. In older texts the phase is sometimes called the amplitude.

Androgyny

Androgyny is the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics into an ambiguous form. Androgyny may be expressed with regard to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual identity. The different meanings of androgyny point to the complex interrelationship between aspects of sex, gender, and sexuality.

When androgyny refers to mixed biological sex characteristics in humans, it often refers to intersex people. As a gender identity, androgynous individuals may refer to themselves as genderqueer, nonbinary, or gender neutral. As a form of gender expression, androgyny can be achieved through personal grooming or fashion. Androgynous gender expression has waxed and waned in popularity in different cultures and throughout history.

Bacilli

Bacilli is a taxonomic class of bacteria that includes two orders, Bacillales and Lactobacillales, which contain several well-known pathogens such as Bacillus anthracis (the cause of anthrax). Bacilli are almost exclusively gram-positive bacteria.

Bantamweight (MMA)

The bantamweight division in mixed martial arts refers to a number of different weight classes:

The UFC's bantamweight division, which groups competitors within 126 lbs–135 lbs (61.3 kg)

The King of the Cage bantamweight class, with upper limit at 145 lb (65.8 kg)

The Shooto bantamweight division, which suits competitors below 125 lb (56.7 kg)

The ONE Championship's bantamweight division, with upper limit at 66 kg (145.5 lb)

The Road FC's bantamweight division, with upper limit at 135.6 lb (61.5 kg)The bantamweight division sits between the lighter flyweight (116 lbs–125 lbs) division and the heavier featherweight division (136 lbs–145 lbs).

Equivocation

In logic, equivocation ('calling two different things by the same name') is an informal fallacy resulting from the use of a particular word/expression in multiple senses throughout an argument leading to a false conclusion. Abbott and Costello's "Who's on first?" routine is a well known example of equivocation.It is a type of ambiguity that stems from a phrase having two distinct meanings, not from the grammar or structure of the sentence.Some examples of equivocation in syllogisms (a logical chain of reasoning) are below:

Since only man [human] is rational,and no woman is a man [male],

Therefore, no woman is rational.A feather is light [not heavy].What is light [bright] cannot be dark.

Therefore, a feather cannot be dark.In the above example, distinct meanings of the word "light" are implied in contexts of the first and second statements.

All jackasses have long ears.Carl is a jackass.

Therefore, Carl has long ears.Here, the equivocation is the metaphorical use of "jackass" to imply a simple-minded or obnoxious person instead of a male donkey.

Ethical dilemma

An ethical dilemma or ethical paradox is a decision-making problem between two possible moral imperatives, neither of which is unambiguously acceptable or preferable. The complexity arises out of the situational conflict in which obeying one would result in transgressing another.

Sometimes called ethical paradoxes in moral philosophy, ethical dilemmas may be invoked to refute an ethical system or moral code, or to improve it so as to resolve the paradox.

Featherweight (MMA)

The featherweight division in mixed martial arts refers to different weight classes:

The UFC's featherweight division, which groups competitors within 136 to 145 lb (61 to 66 kg)

The Shooto's featherweight division, which limits competitors to 135 lb (61.2 kg)

The ONE Championship's featherweight division, with upper limit at 70 kg (154.3 lb)

The Road FC's featherweight division, with upper limit at 144.4 lb (65.5 kg)

Lightweight (MMA)

The lightweight division in mixed martial arts contains different weight classes:

The UFC's lightweight division, which groups competitors within 146 to 155 lb (66 to 70 kg)

The Shooto lightweight division, which limits competitors to 145 lb (65.8 kg)

The ONE Championship's lightweight division, with an upper limit at 77 kg (169.8 lb)

The Road FC's lightweight division, with an upper limit at 154 lb (70 kg)

Meaning (linguistics)

In linguistics, meaning is the information or concepts that a sender intends to convey, or does convey, in communication with a receiver.

Middleweight (MMA)

The middleweight division in mixed martial arts refers to different weight classes:

The UFC's middleweight division, which groups competitors within 171 to 185 lb (77.5 to 84 kg)

The Shooto's middleweight class, which refers to competitors between 155 and 170 lb (70.3 and 77.1 kg)

The ONE Championship's middleweight division, with an upper limit of 93 kg (205 lb)

The Road FC's middleweight division, with an upper limit of 185 lb (84 kg)

Minimum mass

In astronomy, minimum mass is the lower-bound calculated mass of observed objects such as planets, stars and binary systems, nebulae, and black holes.

Minimum mass is a widely cited statistic for extrasolar planets detected by the radial velocity method, and is determined using the binary mass function. This method reveals planets by measuring changes in the movement of stars in the line-of-sight, so the real orbital inclinations and true masses of the planets are generally unknown.

If inclination can be determined, the true mass can be obtained from the calculated minimum mass using the following relationship:

For orbiting bodies in extrasolar stellar and planetary systems, an inclination of 0° or 180° corresponds to a face-on orbit (which cannot be observed by radial velocity), whereas an inclination of 90° corresponds to an edge-on orbit (for which the true mass equals the minimum mass).

Obfuscation

Obfuscation is the obscuring of the intended meaning of communication by making the message difficult to understand, usually with confusing and ambiguous language. The obfuscation might be either unintentional or intentional (although intent usually is connoted), and is accomplished with circumlocution (talking around the subject), the use of jargon (technical language of a profession), and the use of an argot (ingroup language) of limited communicative value to outsiders.In expository writing, unintentional obfuscation usually occurs in draft documents, at the beginning of composition; such obfuscation is illuminated with critical thinking and editorial revision, either by the writer or by an editor. Etymologically, the word obfuscation derives from the Latin obfuscatio, from obfuscāre (to darken); synonyms include the words beclouding and abstrusity.

Policy of deliberate ambiguity

A policy of deliberate ambiguity (also known as a policy of strategic ambiguity, strategic uncertainty) is the practice by a country of being intentionally ambiguous on certain aspects of its foreign policy. It may be useful if the country has contrary foreign and domestic policy goals or if it wants to take advantage of risk aversion to abet a deterrence strategy. Such a policy can be very risky as it may cause misinterpretation of a nation's intentions, leading to actions that contradict that nation's wishes.

Polysemy

Polysemy ( or ; from Greek: πολυ-, poly-, "many" and σῆμα, sêma, "sign") is the capacity for a sign (such as a word, phrase, or symbol) to have multiple meanings (that is, multiple semes or sememes and thus multiple senses), usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or homophony—which is an accidental similarity between two words (such as bear the animal, and the verb to bear); while homonymy is often a mere linguistic coincidence, polysemy is not.

Charles Fillmore and Beryl Atkins' definition stipulates three elements: (i) the various senses of a polysemous word have a central origin, (ii) the links between these senses form a network, and (iii) understanding the 'inner' one contributes to understanding of the 'outer' one.Polysemy is a pivotal concept within disciplines such as media studies and linguistics. The analysis of polysemy, synonymy, and hyponymy and hypernymy is vital to taxonomy and ontology in the information-science senses of those terms. It has applications in pedagogy and machine learning, because they rely on word-sense disambiguation and schemas.

Pragmatics

Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics and semiotics that studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, linguistics and anthropology. Unlike semantics, which examines meaning that is conventional or "coded" in a given language, pragmatics studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on structural and linguistic knowledge (e.g., grammar, lexicon, etc.) of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance, any pre-existing knowledge about those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker, and other factors. In this respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity, since meaning relies on the manner, place, time, etc. of an utterance.The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence.

Serial comma

In English language punctuation, a serial comma or series comma (also called an Oxford comma or a Harvard comma) is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and or or) in a series of three or more terms. For example, a list of three countries might be punctuated either as "France, Italy, and Spain" (with the serial comma), or as "France, Italy and Spain" (without the serial comma).Opinions among writers and editors differ on whether to use the serial comma, and usage also differs somewhat between regional varieties of English. Generally (with few exceptions), British English does not make use of this comma, while on the other hand it is common and even mandatory in American English. A majority of American style guides mandate use of the serial comma, including APA style, The Chicago Manual of Style, The MLA Style Manual, Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual. In contrast, the Associated Press Stylebook advises against it. In Canada, the stylebook published by The Canadian Press advises against it. It is used less often in British English, but a few British style guides require it, notably The Oxford Style Manual. According to The Oxford Companion to the English Language, "Commas are used to separate items in a list or sequence … Usage varies as to the inclusion of a comma before and in the last item … This practice is controversial and is known as the serial comma or Oxford comma, because it is part of the house style of Oxford University Press." Some use it only where necessary to avoid ambiguity, in contrast to such guides as Garner's Modern American Usage, which advocate its routine use to avoid ambiguity.

Syntactic ambiguity

Syntactic ambiguity, also called structural ambiguity, amphiboly or amphibology, is a situation where a sentence may be interpreted in more than one way due to ambiguous sentence structure.

Syntactic ambiguity arises not from the range of meanings of single words, but from the relationship between the words and clauses of a sentence, and the sentence structure underlying the word order therein. In other words, a sentence is syntactically ambiguous when a reader or listener can reasonably interpret one sentence as having more than one possible structure.

In legal disputes, courts may be asked to interpret the meaning of syntactic ambiguities in statutes or contracts. In some instances, arguments asserting highly unlikely interpretations have been deemed frivolous. A set of possible parse trees for an ambiguous sentence is called a parse forest. The process of resolving syntactic ambiguity is called syntactic disambiguation.

Welterweight (MMA)

The welterweight division in mixed martial arts contains different weight classes:

The UFC's welterweight division, which groups competitors within 156 to 170 lb (71 to 77 kg)

The ONE Championship's welterweight division, with upper limit at 84 kg (185.2 lb)

Appeals to emotion
Genetic fallacies
Appeals to consequences
Other appeals
In propositional logic
In quantificational logic
Syllogistic fallacy
Informal fallacies
Equivocation
Question-begging fallacies
Correlative-based fallacies
Illicit transference
Secundum quid
(ignoring qualifications)
Faulty generalization
Vagueness / Ambiguity
Questionable cause
Critical thinking and
informal logic
Theories of deduction
Philosophers
Theories
Concepts
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