英语专业本科毕业论文
On English Ambiguity Zhao Banghong
Outline

  1. Introduction
【标题中实词都要大写】 标题中实词都要大写】

  2. Theoretical Background

  3. Classification of Ambiguity

  3.1 Phonological Ambiguity

  3.
  1.1 Intonation

  3.
  1.2 Liaison

  3.
  1.3 Homophony

  3.2 Lexical Ambiguity

  3.
  2.1 P olysemy

  3.
  2.2 Homonymy

  3.
  2.3 Historical Change

  3.
  2.4 Dialectical Differences

  3.3 Syntactic Ambiguity

  3.
  3.1 Multiple Constituent Structures

  3.
  3.2 Multiple Syntactic Functions

  3.
  3.3 Ellipsis

  3.4 Pragmatic Ambiguity

  4. Approaches of Disambiguity

  4.1 Adoption of Stress and Pause

  4.2 Addition of Context

  4.3 Utilization of Syntactic Structures

  4.
  3.1 A lteration of Phrasal Order

  4.
  3.2 Reorganization of Sentence

  4.
  3.3 A ddition of Omitted Constituents

  4.4 Replacement of Ambiguous Words

  4.5 Utilization of Punctuation Marks

  5. Conclusion
号字】 On English Ambiguity 【 18 号字】
Liao Yuan 【 16 号字】 号字】
Supervisor: xxx 【 16 号字】 号字】
(School of Foreign Languages, Jinggangshan University, Ji’an, Jiangxi, 3430
  09)
Abstract: This paper mainly expounds the reasons of phonological, lexical, syntactic and pragmatic ambiguity, and puts forward five approaches of disambiguity in English: adoption of stress and pause, addition of language context, utilization of syntactic structure, replacement of words and utilization of punctuation marks.
Key words: ambiguity; reasons; disambiguity; approaches
论英语中的歧义现象 【 三号 】
廖苑 【 小四号】 】
指导老师: XXX 【 小四号】 】
(井冈山大学外国语学院,江西 吉安 343009 ) 【 小四号】 】
摘要: 摘要: 本文从语音、词汇、句法以及语用四大因素入手,分析了英语中歧义句产生的原因; 并在此基础上详细阐述了五种消歧的方法: 运用重读、 增设语境、 利用句法结构、 替代词语、 利用标点符号。
关键词: 关键词: 歧义;原因;消歧;方法

  1. Introduction
( 标题中实词全部大写 )
【正文用小四号字体,
  1.5 倍行距,首行缩进 2 字符】
Ambiguity is a subtle but pervasive phenomenon in English. But as to what is ambiguity there are many versions. Chomsky hold that ambiguity occurs when an expression_r_r_r has grammatical structure and is semantically relational but its deep structure can be interpreted in two or more ways (1965:
  25). 【句号在夹住之后 , 注释要与参考文 献相吻合,且要精确到页码】 Yang Ping proposed that ambiguity is with various understandings or multi-meaning (2001:
  38). Cann stated “A sentence is said to be ambiguous whenever it can be associated with two or more different meanings.” (1993:
  8) All in all, ambiguity refers to the phenomenon that an equivocal sentence or expression_r_r_r can be understood in more than one way. On the basis of different definitions, the paper focuses on four perspectives: phonological, lexical, syntactic and pragmatic ambiguity. Since ambiguity is a fundamental problem of language comprehension and an obstacle of communication, efforts are made into and attention is paid to the resolution of ambiguity so as to achieve successful and effective communication.
【每一大部分之间要求空一行,下同】

  2. Theoretical Background
Researches on English ambiguity can be traced far back to Greece, when Aristotle, a well-known philosopher and thinker discussed ambiguity in his De Sophistics Elenchis. He pointed out the sophistry caused by language had six sources, among which is ambiguity (1958:2
  57). Since then many western scholars showed interest in the topic. Empson published Seven Types of Ambiguity in 1930, and discussed ambiguity in a literary view and pointed out that interpreting ambiguity was the basic task of semantics (1930:
  78). The generative grammar about deep structure and surface structure by Chomsky gave a forceful explanation to ambiguous structure. Ambiguity in Natural Language by Kooij is a great contribution to the study of ambiguity as well as the psycholinguistics. Halliday’s functional grammar focused on the function of language by insisting that language structure should be explained in the process of its use (1985:
  19). And Su’s Lexical Ambiguity in Poetry mentioned that the study of ambiguity must be placed in the context of language use.
From the above, we find, though ambiguity has been discussed in various linguistic fields, its study just focused on one kind of ambiguity. This paper will analyze ambiguity in five parts: Part One will introduce various definitions of ambiguity; Part Two will review the history of ambiguity; Part Three will classify ambiguity into phonological, lexical, syntactic and pragmatic level; Part Four will discuss approaches of disambiguity; and Part Five is the conclusion. Next, the classification of ambiguity will be analyzed.

  3. Classification of Ambiguity
Ambiguity appears both in spoken and written English. The classification of ambiguity will be analyzed at phonological level in oral English and at lexical, syntactic, pragmatic level in written English.

  3.1 Phonological Ambiguity
Phonological ambiguity occurs in oral English. When an expression_r_r_r is read with different intonations, it tends to be ambiguous. In addition, liaison and homophony are also the factors that result in ambiguity in spoken English.

  3.
  1.1 Intonation
As a musical element of an utterance, intonation is often defined as the variation (or the general movement) of the pitch of the voice in connected speech (Yu Hui 2001:
  23). In oral English, sentences convey different information because of intonation placements, thus ambiguity occurs. Consider the following example:
(
  1) a. She has two classmates in Beijing. (例子用五号字体,全文同一编号)
b. SHE has two classmates in Beijing.
c. She has TWO classmates in Beijing.
d. She has two CLASSMATES in Beijing.
e. She has two classmates in BEIJING.
Sentence ( 1a) can be interpreted in four ways with stress on four words. When the stress is on the word “she”, it means that “It is she who has two classmates in Beijing”; when on “two”, it implies that “she has only two classmates in Beijing, no more or no less”; when on “classmates”, it indicates that “she has two classmates not sisters or brothers or relatives in Beijing”; when on “Beijing”, it indicates “she has two classmates in Beijing not in Shenzhen or other places”. Therefore, when this sentence is read with different placements of stress, different interpretations or implicatures will be obtained.

  3.
  1.2 Liaison
Liaison is the link of sounds or words. In a speech, each sound of word should be linked smoothly and naturally. On the other hand, liaison triggers ambiguity just because it makes words homonymous. For example:
(
  2) a. I see a /greiteip/
b. I see a grey tape
c. I see a grate ape
In Example ( 2a), the phonetic symbol /greiteip/ represents two different written forms: “grate ape” and “grey tape”. Although (2b) and ( 2c) share the same pronunciation, their meanings are different.

  3.
  1.3 Homophony
Homophones are words identical in sound but different in spelling and meaning, such as “I/eye”, “see/sea”, “dear/deer”, “tail/tale” and so on. Homophones will cause confusion of words understanding. Let us take a look at the following example.
(
  3) The mathematics professor noticed that one of his students was day-dreaming, and not following his work in the blackboard, to recall his attention, he said sharply, “Brown, Brown, board!” The boy startled, looked up. “Yes, sir, very.” came the reply.
“Board” and “bored” have the same phonological form /bo:d/. The professor wanted Brown to look at the blackboard, but Brown woke up from his dream and didn’t catch his professor, so he answered immediately “Yes, sir, very”. Brown misunderstood his teacher by replying the mathematical class was boring.

  3.2 Lexical Ambiguity
Semantic ambiguity relates to the ambiguous meaning of words or sentences. The paper just analyzes lexical ambiguity. Most of lexical ambiguity is caused by polysemy and homonymy. In addition, historical change and dialectical difference also trigger lexical ambiguity.

  3.
  2.1 P olysemy
Polysemy is the phenomenon that words are associated with at least two meanings. Example is the word “head”, which refers to the object on the top of our body, on the top of a glass of beer, on the top of a company or department. Though polysemy has many interpretations, just only one is maintained in a certain context. If two interpretations of the same word can be both adopted in a sentence, ambiguity occurs. For example:
(
  4) He was seated by the chairman.
The different understanding of the word “by” will lead to ambiguity. If it is understood as “by the side of”, this sentence’s meaning is “He seated by the side of the chairman”. But if word “by” is understood as a preposition, the sentence means “The chairman let him sit down”.

  3.
  2.2
Homonymy
Homonyms are words with the same pronunciation and written forms, but with distinct and unrelated meanings. Examples are the words like “punch” (a blow with a fist or a drink); “mole” (on skin or a small animal). Look at the following sentence:
(
  5) a. He went to the bank yesterday.
b. He went to a financial institution where deals with money yesterday.
c. He went to a riverside yesterday.
Sentence ( 5a) is ambiguous since the word “bank” in Sentence ( 5a) has two unrelated meanings: “a financial institution” in (5b) and “a riverside” in ( 5c).
3 .
  2.3 Historical Change
  2.3
With the development of our nature and society, scientific technology specially, great changes have happened in the meaning of the words. In the past decades, new terms like “AIDS”, “Coke”, “guided missile” have come into being; on the other hand, words disappeared once they lost the favor of the speech community, such as “fain”(gladly), “beseem”(to be suitable), “wot”(to know) and so on. Look at the following example:
(
  6) Only some of the visitors gained admittance into the clean room.
In Sentence (
  6), “clean room” means “a room without dirt in our daily life”. But now it is also considered as “a room which frees from impurities completely
where is used to produce elaborate accessories”. If the addressee doesn’t know the new meaning of “clean room”, misunderstanding will occur.
Similar lexical ambiguity can also be seen in the word “mouse”, which can be interpreted as an animal in our daily life and a small hand-held device that is moved across a desk-top as a term in computer field.

  3.
  2.4 Dialectical Differences
The difference in history, geography, polity, economy and cultural background between England and America is also reflected in their languages, especially in lexicon. Some words may lead to ambiguity as they express different concepts in British and American English. For example:
(
  7) NO GAS TODAY
In American English, “gas” represents coal gas and gasoline, while in British English, it just means coal gas, and gasoline should be substituted by petrol.
(
  8) A: Excuse me, which floor is the office on?
B: The office is on the first floor.
Sentence (
  8) is another ambiguous example caused by dialectical difference. If A is a British, he will understand it as “The office is on the floor above ground level”; but if he is an American, he will go to the floor on ground level.

  3.3
Syntactic Ambiguity
“Syntactic ambiguity attains in those sentences in which strings of words can be grouped in different ways or in which words can have different grammatical functions depending on the inferred relations among them” (Hu Zhuanglin 2001:2
  05). There are three causes of syntactic ambiguity: multiple constituent structures, multiple syntactic roles and ellipsis.

  3.
  3.1 Multiple Constituent Structures
In analyzing the structure of sentences and phrases, we know that sentences or phrases are composed of constituents. “A sentence does not only have a linear structure, consisting of individual words one after another in a line; they also have a hierarchical structure, made up of layers of word group” ( Hu zhuanglin 2001:1
  22). Sometimes the same linear order of constituents corresponds to more than one constituent structure, which is a potential cause of syntactic ambiguity. Look at the following example:
( 9a) I bought a present to my sister in Beijing.
Sentence ( 9a) is ambiguous since it has more than one possible interpretation. The ambiguity arises from the fact that the string of words has more than one possible constituent structure. We can bracket this sentence in different ways to indicate the different constituent structures:
(
  9) b. I bought a present to [my sister in Beijing]
c. I bought a present to [my sister] [in Beijing]
Sentence ( 9a) can be paraphrased as “It was to my sister in Beijing that I bought a present”; Sentence (9b) can be paraphrased as “It was in Beijing where I bought a present to my sister”.

  3.
  3.2 Multiple Syntactic Functions
Such ambiguity comes from the fact that a sentence element may play more than one syntactic role in a sentence. Considering the following sentence:
(
  10) I came across Alice in the street.
If “in the street” functions as locative adverbial, Sentence (
  10) is
 

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