Problem of meaning ambiguity in a language

Sometimes one meaning of a word is derived from another. For example, the cognitive sense of 'see' seems derived from

Problem of meaning ambiguity in a language

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ver did care for the river, did Montmorency. (Jerome)

As we have already said, there are no absolute synonyms in grammar. Synonymic forms will generally differ either in various shades of the common grammatical meaning, expressive connotation or in stylistic value. The former may be referred to as relative synonyms, the latter as stylistic ones.

Further examples of paradigmatic synonyms will be found among the so-called periphrastic forms of the English verb.

Relatively synonymous are, for instance, the Future Indefinite tense-forms and the periphrastic "to be going to" future. A simple affirmative statement of intention with no external circumstances mentioned (time, condition, reason, etc.) is generally expressed by the periphrastic form. When a future action depends on the external circumstances the "to be going to" is rare. Cf.:

1.a) He will sell his house, (rare)

b) He's going to sell his house. (normal)

2.a) He'll sell it if you ask him. (normal)

b) He is going to sell it if you ask him. (rare) 1

To be going to with a personal subject implies a much stronger intention than the Future Tense with shall/will does.

Patterns with the passive auxiliaries be and get will also illustrate grammatical synonyms of the first type.

The passive forms in Modern English are represented by analytic combinations of the auxiliary verb to be with the past participle of the conjugated verb. The verb to get can also function as an auxiliary of the passive, e. g.: (1) My dress got caught on a nail. (2) He got struck by a stone. these are not new usages, but ones which are spreading.

To get seems closer to the true passive auxiliary be in patterns like the following: She got blamed for everything. She gets teased by the other children.

The stabilisation of lexico-grammatical devices to indicate the aspective character of the action has also contributed to the development of synonymy in Modern English.

A special interest attaches to contextual synonyms on the grammatica1 level created through transposition of related grammatical forms, Neutralisation of the distinctive features of the opposed grammatical forms leads to situational synonymy. Here are a few examples to illustrate the statement:

(1)Are you coming to the PPRS Board on Tuesday? (Galsworthy) (The Supposition Present Future is neutralised; Are you coming? is synonymus with Will you come?)

Similarly:

(2)Whom do you think I travelled with? Fleur Mont. We ran up against each other at Victoria. She's taking her boy to boring next week to convalesce him. (Galsworthy) (She's taking = she will take)

A special interest attaches to contextual synonyms on the grammatica1 level created through transposition of related grammatical forms, Neutralisation of the distinctive features of the opposed grammatical forms leads to situational synonymy. Here are a few examples to illustrate the statement:

(1)Are you coming to the PPRS Board on Tuesday? (Galsworthy) (The Supposition Present Future is neutralised; Are you coming? is synonymus with Will you come?)

Similarly:

(2)Whom do you think I travelled with? Fleur Mont. We ran up against each other at Victoria. She's taking her boy to boring next week to convalesce him. (Galsworthy) (She's taking = she will take)

Present Continuous and Present Indefinite may function as situational synonyms in cases like the following:

  1. Dicky! said James. You are always wasting money on something. (Galsworthy) (You are always wasting is synonymous with You always waste).
  2. She is continually imagining dangers when they do not exist. (She is imagining = she imagines).
  3. June read: Lake Okanagen. British Columbia, I'm not coming back to England. Bless you always. John. (Galsworthy) (I'm not coming = = I shall not come).
  4. Fleur huddled her chin in her fur. It was easterly and cold. A voice behind her said: Well, Fleur, am I going East? (Galsworthy) Cf. Am I going East? = Shall I go East?

 

Conclusion

 

In this essay we have tried to prove that although ideational content is certainly an important aspect of linguistic communication, it is a mistake to regard clarity of referential meaning as a master skill, in two ways. First it is an error to assume that all other words serve at the pleasure of communicating speakers intended semantic reference; and second, it is an error to assume that all meaningful linguistic action has clarity of referential meaning as its central goal, or that only messages with clear referential content are in some sense communicative. Polysemy, ambiguity, synonymy often helps achieve a communicational goal.

No doubt this strikes many readers as obvious. And yet, while we might say that in the Western intellectual tradition they have always been recognized as an inevitable feature of natural languages, we might say with more conviction that they have usually been recognized as a problem. Sometimes they break clear transmission of thought from a speaker to an audience and only undermine meaning.

But we propose two things: first, that ambiguity may in fact be productive of understanding and not simply destructive of it; and second, that what we take as discourse forms transparent to their ideational referents often are not. This approach calls for reconsidering what we might mean when we speak of “understanding.” Usually, understanding is taken to mean recognition of the cognitive content of an utterance. We might well supplement this with a less technical idea which, at the moment, we can only call “getting it.”

When we think about linguistic communication as a multi-channel embodied participatory experience, our focus shifts to features of contextualized practice that are multimodal, multivocal, and lean more heavily on non-propositional features of communicationfeatures that have complicated relationships to the preservation or presentation of clear referential content. The general sense in the Western tradition has been that words organize propositional content into more pleasing form“good ideas, well expressed,” the melding of form and content. But perhaps expressions work independently of propositionality, sometimes aiding, sometimes undermining, sometimes stepping into the breach where propositionality finds itself at a loss for words.

 

Literature

 

1. Арнольд И.В. Лексикология современного английского языка.: учебник для ин-тов и фак. иностр. языка.- 3-е издание, перераб и доп.- М.: Высшая школа, 1986.- 295с.

2. Блох М.Я. Теоретическая грамматика английского языка.: Учебник для студентов филол.фак. ун-тов и фак.. англ.яз. педвузов.-М.: Высшая школа, 1983.- 383.

3. Ильин Б.Я.. Строй современного английского языка.:Учебник по курсу теор.грамматики для студ. педаг. Институтов.- издание второе.- Л.:Просвещение,1971.-365с.

4. Каушанская Л.В. Грамматика английского языка.: Учебник для студ. пед.институтов.- 4-е издание.- Л.: Просвещение,1973.- 319с.

5. Раевская Н.М.. Теоретическая грамматика современного английского языка.: Для студентов факультетов романо-германской филологии университетов и педагогических институтов иностранных языков (на английском языке).-К.: Высшая школа,1976.- 383с.

6. David Samuels. The agenda of ambiguity in expressive culture.- University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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