Language Ambiguity is a Good Thing, After All

Henry Cunha 3 18 183
If we tried to make all language items completely unambiguous, so that even our smallest statements had one and only one meaning, our working language would have to have millions and millions of verbs, adjectives, nouns, etc. That would be great for language teachers, but a real piss-off for language learners.

"The advantage of ambiguity

"Many prominent linguists, including MIT’s Noam Chomsky, have argued that language is, in fact, poorly designed for communication. Such a use, they say, is merely a byproduct of a system that probably evolved for other reasons — perhaps for structuring our own private thoughts.

As evidence, these linguists point to the existence of ambiguity: In a system optimized for conveying information between a speaker and a listener, they argue, each word would have just one meaning, eliminating any chance of confusion or misunderstanding. Now, a group of MIT cognitive scientists has turned this idea on its head. In a new theory, they claim that ambiguity actually makes language more efficient, by allowing for the reuse of short, efficient sounds that listeners can easily disambiguate with the help of context."

“Various people have said that ambiguity is a problem for communication,” says Ted Gibson, an MIT professor of cognitive science and senior author of a paper describing the research to appear in the journal Cognition. “But once we understand that context disambiguates, then ambiguity is not a problem — it’s something you can take advantage of, because you can reuse easy [words] in different contexts over and over again.”

From ... -0119.html

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2 respostas
Marcio_Farias 1 24 213
Yes, let's not confuse "you missed my history lecture" with "you hissed my mystery lecture."

Don't say "this is the pun fart" if you heard "this is the fun part."
Well, I couldn't agree more. It seems that it will be a tad more harder to keep up with the language if all words are unique to one meaning. And that means that that there are more words you have to know and memorize just so you could tell the people that you mean this and not another word.

Though I think that people will get used to knowing a lot of words in that case.