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semantics: The Analysis of Ambiguity Types

1. Semantic Ambiguity

1) Headline : I am shaking hands with my friends.
  • Ambiguity type: Semantic.
  • Identification and explanation: the homograph “shake” can be interpreted as a noun meaning move quickly from side to side, up and down or take hand and move it up and down as a greeting. Likewise, the homograph “hand” can be interpreted as a noun meaning body parts.
  • What makes headline humorous: the headline can easily be read as our hand moves quickly from side to side, we and down.
  • Computational Resolution: The ambiguity could be resolved for a computer parser by specifying in the lexical entry for each item its semantic features.
2) Headline : He is a good friend in a tight corner.
  • Ambiguity type: Semantic.
  • Identification and explanation: the homograph “tight” can be interpreted as a noun meaning close-fitting clothing covering the hips, legs and feet or difficulties. Likewise, the homograph “corner” can be interpreted as a noun place where two lines or surfaces meet or position.
  • What makes headline humorous: the headline can easily be read as a he is a good friend that wears close-fitting clothing covering the hips log and feet in the place where two lines. (road)
  • Computational revolution: The ambiguity could be resolved for a computer parser by specifying in the lexical entry for each item its semantic features.
3) Headline : Racial discrimination is a hot potato in polities.
  • Ambiguity type: semantic.
  • Identification and explanation: the homograph “hot” can be interpreted as and adjective meaning either hot weather, hot food or hot. Strong in argument and difficult to settle. The homograph “Potato” can be interpreted or a noun meaning kinds of vegetable food or interpreted or a noun meaning kinds of vegetable food or argument. The true meaning of hot potato is something that cause strong.
  • What makes headline humorous: The headline can easily be read as a racial discrimination is there is food potato that hot in politics.
  • Computational resolution: The ambiguity could be resolved for a computer parser by specifying in the lexical entry for each item its semantic features.
4) Headline: Prices of houses have reached rock bottom.
  • Ambiguity type: semantic.
  • Identification and explanation: the homograph “rock” can be interpreted as a noun meaning either mass music rock or point. Like wise, the homograph “bottom” can be interpreted as a noun lowest part or point or part of body on which one sits or ground under a sea.
  • What makes headline humorous: the headline can easily be read as a price of houses have reached mass of music rock in the under a sea.
  • Computational resolution: The ambiguity could be resolved for a computer parser by specifying in the lexical entry for each item its semantic features.
5) Headline: The race champion romped home in record time.
  • Ambiguity type: semantic.
  • Identification and explanation: the homograph “romp” can be interpreted as a verb meaning either plays noisily and roughly. Likewise, the homograph “home” can be interpreted as a noun meaning a place were one lives but the true meaning romped home is to win in record time.
  • What makes headline humorous: the headline can easily be read as the race champion plays noisily and roughly in the home (a place were one lives) in record time.
  • Computational resolution: The ambiguity could be resolved for a computer parser by specifying in the lexical entry for each item its semantic features.


2. Lexical Ambiguity

1) Headline : We met at the bank of Indonesia.
  • Ambiguity type: lexical (part of speech or category ambiguity)
  • Identification and explanation: “Bank” can occur as either a noun meaning the land at the side or a river or a noun meaning a financial institution.
  • What makes headline humorous: the headline can easily be read as “we met at the side of the river” even though it was meant to meant that we met at the institutional bank. Depend on the situational the speaker and listener response and context.
2) Headline : Students’ enrolment grew rapidly.
  • Ambiguity type: lexical (part of speech or category ambiguity).
  • Identification an explanation: “grew” can occur as either a verb meaning to increase in size or a verb meaning to develop: plants.
  • What makes headline humorous: the headline can easily be read as “student enrolment increase in size rapidly” event though it was meant to mean that the walk of “student developed like flower or plants rapidly.”
3) Headline: My brother is mad about sports.
  • Ambiguity type: lexical (part of speech or category ambiguity).
  • Identification and explanation: “mad” can occur as either an adjective meaning very enthusiastic about something or an adjective meaning very angry with somebody.
  • What makes headline humorous: The headline can easily read as my brother is very enthusiastic about sports even though it was meant to mean that the walkout of my brother is very angry about sports.

4) Headline : Please, give me a ring in the morning.
  • Ambiguity type: lexical (part of speech or category ambiguity).
  • Identification and explanation: “ring” can occur as either a noun meaning “call” or a noun small circular metal band worn on a finger.
  • What makes headline humorous: The headline can easily be read as “Give me a call in the morning” even though it was meant to mean that the walkout of give me a small circular metal band worn on a finger in the morning.

5) Headline :The old train starts at 09.00.
  • Ambiguity type: lexical (part of speech or category ambiguity).
  • Identification and explanation: “Train” can occur as either a noun meaning: train (line of carriages or trucks joined together and pulled by an engine a long a railway) or a verb meaning to receive or give teaching.
  • What makes headline humorous: The headline can easily read as “the old train left the station” even though it was meant to mean that the walk out of “the old train the young”.
3. Structural Ambiguity

1) Headline : Put the box on the table in the kitchen.
  • Ambiguity type: structural.
  • Identification and explanation: The headline’s two alternative syntactic representations make it structurally ambivalent:
  1. Is the box already on the table, and to be put in the kitchen?
  2. Is the box to be put on the table which is in the kitchen?
  • What makes headline humorous: The head line can be easily be read as the representation in (1) the box already on the table, and to be put on the kitchen, is humorous because box is on the table and to be put in the kitchen, whereas the box is not on the table yet.
  • Computational Resolution: Specifying in the computational lexicon that “put” usually a word “verb” to asking or ordering something that the goods or something is still put yet.
2) Headline : I know clever people like you.
  • Ambiguity type: structural.
  • Identification and explanation: The headline’s two alternative syntactic representations make it structurally ambivalent:
  1. (I know clever people) like you. (I really know you are the clever people)
  2. (I know) clever people like you. (I know the clever people that you know).
  • What makes headline humorous: The headline can be easily be read as the representation in (2): I know the people and you are clever, which is humorous because juncture in speaking is wrong after the verb know.
  • Computational Resolution: Specifying in the computational lexicon that the juncture in speaking of the sentence above can take place after the object “clever people”.
3) Headline : Do you want to try on that dress in the window?
  • Ambiguity type: semantic
  • Identification and explanation: The headline’s two alternative syntactic representation make it structurally ambivalent:
  1. You want to try on that dress that is hanged or took in the window.
  2. You want to try to wear that dress in the window.
  • What makes headline humorous: The headline can be easily be read as the representation in (2): You want to try to wear that dress in the window, which is humorous, because it is impossible that a person open or remove their dress in front of the window, it can be represented that the person shameless or have not shy.
  • Computational resolution: the ambiguity could be resolved for a person that must attention to moral value or interpreting in comprehending the meaning of conversation or communication.
4) Headline : Oh …that’s just a crazy economist’s idea.
  • Ambiguity type: structural.
  • Identification and explanation: The headline’s two alternative syntactic representations make it structurally ambivalent:
  1. Crazy is about economist
  2. Crazy is about idea
  • What makes headline humorous: The headline can be easily be read as the representation in (1) crazy is about economist, which is humorous because the man from economist is crazy.
  •  Computational resolution: This sentence can be known as telling about idea from the economist; because a noun “idea” can be taken place after a noun “economist” and the function of adjective “crazy” explain about the noun economist’s idea, not only economist’s but also both of the noun.
5) Headline : I know a café in the tether district near the metro station.
  • Ambiguity type: structural.
  • Identification and explanation: The headline’s two alternative syntactic representations make it structurally ambivalent:
  1. Near the metro station is about the theater district.
  2. Near the metro station is about the café.
  • What makes headline humorous: The headline can be easily be read as the representation in (1) Near the metro station is about the theater district, which is humorous because the metro station is grouped with the other district.
  • Computational Resolution: The topic of this sentence is talking about a café. So the metro station is grouped with a café.

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