Whenever two interpretations are possible, we should always adopt the more reasonable one.
Ambiguous sentence: one that has two or more different but usually precise meanings
Vague sentence: one that lacks a precise meaning.
“That as a noisy party they had last night, and it went on until all hours.”
“Lots of people own two television sets.”
“You should sign our petition to protest against the violation of our rights by the government.”
“if you persist in this course of action, all hell is going to break loose.”
“The fact that the Liberals won more seats than any other party in the last federal election shows that the voters want a Liberal government.”
Vagueness: ‘the voters’ = how many voters? Cannot refer to all the voters. Most of the voters?
“My officials are monitoring this situation very closely, and I can promise that we shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the situation is resolved in a way that is fair to all the parties involved,”
Vagueness: minister has not really promised to do anything at all. ‘appropriate measures’ What are they? They could be anything or nothing. What does ‘fair to all the parties’ mean?
Referential ambiguity: when a word or phrase could, in the context of a particular sentence, refer to two or more properties or things.
“Pavarotti is a big opera star”: you will have whether big refers to fat or famous.
Distributively: When we use nouns to say something about each and every member of a class. (dogs: refers to the class consisting of all dogs)
Collectively: terms to say something about the class as such.
“Our university has a large wrestling team”
Distributively: means the individual members of the team are large.
Collectively: means the team has a large... [continues]
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