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Linguistics

Prepared by CHO, HYUNGSOO

Ambiguity &
Deep Structure and Surface Structure
(in TGG)

Professor : Ms. Cecilia Teodoro


Date : Aug/9/2016

Submitter : CHO, HYUNGSOO

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Linguistics

Prepared by CHO, HYUNGSOO

Ambiguity & Deep Structure and Surface Structure (in TGG)............................................................1


1.

Ambiguity...............................................................................................................................3
1.1 Lexical Ambiguity..............................................................................................................3
1.2 The examples of Ambiguity................................................................................................4
1.2.1 HEADLINES in the Newspapers................................................................................4
1.2.2 From Ads................................................................................................................5
1.3 Structural Ambiguity..........................................................................................................5
1.4 Another type of structural ambiguity Garden Path..............................................................6

2.

Deep Structure and Surface Structure......................................................................................8


2.1 Examples of Deep Structures & Surface Structure...............................................................9

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Linguistics

Prepared by CHO, HYUNGSOO

1. Ambiguity
It is the property of having two or more meanings. A word or sentence is ambiguous if it can be
interpreted in more than one way.
Two types of ambiguity in micro linguistics
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Lexical ambiguity

Structural (or Grammatical) ambiguity

1.1 Lexical Ambiguity


Lexical ambiguity results in multiple meanings of a sentence or a phrase due to words which have
multiple meanings, as in This will make you smart.
The table shows distinct features of each term.
Term

Meaning

Spelling

Pronunciation

Homophone
Different
Different (heterography)
Same
(same sound)
Same (homonym)
Homograph
Different
Same
Same (homonym)
(same writing)
Different (heteronym)
Heteronym
Different
Same
Different
(different name)
Homonym
Different
Same
Same
(same name)
%The terms above have all different meaning in common. Homo indicates the words having the same
pronunciation and Hetero means the words having different sound.
The terms are various and complex, so I want to simplify those thing into three terms.
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Heteronym is the same spelling and the different sound

Homonym is the same spelling and the same sound.

Homophone is the different spelling and the same sound.

The table below shows several types invoking lexical ambiguity.


Homophone

Homograph

Words Characteristics relating to Lexical Ambiguity


Definition : a lexical relation where two or more different forms have the
same pronunciation
/sel/ - Cell and Sell, /bi:n/ - been and bean, /sent/ - scent, sent, cent
More on
http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~jburkardt/fun/wordplay/multinyms.html
Definition : a lexical relation where words of like spelling but with more
than one meaning
Bar :
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Linguistics

Heteronym

Homonym

Prepared by CHO, HYUNGSOO

1) a solid object of metal or wood.


2) a cube-shaped object.
3) -
4) the counter in a premises.
5) an official order or pronouncement.
6) a vertical line.
More on
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_homographs
Definition : subset of homographs and words that are written identically
but have different pronunciations and meanings.
1) Dont desert me here in the desert.
2) They were too close to the door to close it.
3) We must polish the Polish furniture.
4) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
Definition : subset of homographs and a group of words that share the
same pronunciation but have different meanings.
1) Bank (the financial organ / the side of the river)
2) Like (similar to / enjoy)
3) Plain (ordinary looking / flat country)
4) Skip (to jump / to miss out)
5) Fair (appearance / reasonable)
6) Blue (the color / the feeling of sadness)

1.2 The examples of Ambiguity


1.2.1 HEADLINES in the Newspapers
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PROSTITUES APPEAL TO POPE (homonym)

IRAQI HEAD SEEKS ARMS (homonym)

STOLEN PAINTING FOUND BY TREE (homonym)

CHILDS STOOL IS GREAT FOR USE IN GARDEN (homonym)


1.2.2 From Ads

Take your mother-in-law out back and shoot her. (Kodak)


Are you up in the air about the future? (Air Force)
Most parents and doctors trust Tylenol.
Lexical Ambiguity is used in Ads to make customers to think deeply and longer about what they intend
to convey with confusing. Processing resolution of underlying ambiguity could result in great cognitive
engagement invoking positive or negative feedback.

1.3 Structural Ambiguity


Some phrases and sentences exhibit when their (constituent) syntactic structure can be interpreted in
more than one way so that the same sequence of words has two or more meanings by different
structure analysis. The intended meaning of a syntactically ambiguous sentence can often be
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Linguistics

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determined by context.

Dr. Ruth talked about sex with a newspaper editor.


talked about [sex with a newspaper editor]
[talked about sex] with a newspaper editor

Enraged farmer fought a robber with ax.

The professor said on Monday he would give an exam.


The prof. said that on Monday he would give an exam.
The prof. said on Monday that he would give an exam.

Visiting strangers can be dangerous.

Moving sidewalks can be useful.

Juvenile court to try shooting defendants.


[to try] shooting defendants
[to try shooting] defendants

John put the apple in the bowl.

In sentence A, in the bowl is PP (prepositional phrase) of NP (noun phrase).

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In sentence B, in the bowl is PP of VP (verb phrase).

1.4 Another type of structural ambiguity Garden Path


A garden-path sentence is a sentence that is temporarily ambiguous or confusing because it contains
a word group which appears to be compatible with more than one structural analysis. This would not
happen if the interpretation of a sentence is deferred until it had been heard or read in its entirety, but
we try to process the sentences as we perceive them word by word and then, we are led down the
garden path (Mary Smith).
A garden-path sentence is often brought by tricking readers into reading noun or verb as adjectives and
vice versa, and leaving out definite or indefinite articles (Frederick Luis Aldama).
Comprehension is better when relative pronouns (e.g., that, which, whom) are used to signal the start
of a phrase than when they are omitted.
1. The man pushed through the door fell.
2. The cotton clothing is made of grows in Mississippi.
3. The president believed the report about the attack had been forged.
But, in some cases, the relative pronouns make the reading or the speaking slow or comprehended
less. Proper usage of present or past Participles makes the sentence simple.
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The man who whistled tunes piano. The whistling man tunes piano.

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Linguistics

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2. Deep Structure and Surface Structure


The syntactic structure has two categories, Deep Structure and Surface Structure.
Deep Structure is the underlying meaning of the sentence and the basic structure of sentences and is
specified by the phrase structure rules, which create initial syntactic trees.
Surface Structure is the outward of a sentence that can be spoken or heard. In transformational
grammar, it is derived from Deep Structures by a series of transformations: Tense, Dative movement,
Passive, Substitution/Reflexivisation, Affix hopping.
Chomskys aims in Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965) became more ambitious in order to explain
all of the linguistic relationships between the sound system and the meaning system of the language:
syntactic, semantic, and phonological.
The syntactic component falls into two major sub-parts: a base containing phrase-structure rules and a
lexicon, and transformational rules. Phrase-structure rules state what basic combinations of syntactic
categories are permissible within the sentence and make the trees into which words are to be inserted
from the lexicon. The resulting of the trees are the Deep Structures of English.
The second major type of syntactic component is the transformation, which converts trees or Deep
Structures produced by the phrase-structure rules into other trees, which is a derived structure or a
Surface Structure.
Thus, the syntactic component produces two outputs for each sentence: a Deep Structure, and a
Surface Structure. According to Chomsky, the syntactic Surface Structure is relevant to the
phonological rules, while the syntactic Deep Structure is relevant to the semantic interpretation of
sentences.
Eg>
I like her cooking
The sentence has different meanings because it has different deep structures though only one surface
structure.
Though the meaning is such that I like that she cooks in a certain way, we can simply say, I like her
cooking. Transformations made ambiguity, but they do not hamper communication because when we
talk the context usually resolves the ambiguities.
the boy will read the book and the book will be read by the boy
The sentences have different surface structures but one and the same deep structure.
This theory of the relation of syntax to semantics and phonology can be shown graphically as follows:
The Deep Structure of a sentence is submitted to the semantic component for semantic interpretation,
and its Surface Structure enters the phonological component and undergoes phonetic interpretation.
The final effect of a grammar, then, is to relate a semantic interpretation to a phonetic representation

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Linguistics

Prepared by CHO, HYUNGSOO

Table 1

Base Component
PSR

lexicon

Deep Structures

Transformational Component

Surface Structures

Semantic Component
()

Semantic representation
of sentences

Phonological Component

Phonological representation of sentences

2.1 Examples of Deep Structures & Surface Structure


Deep Structures have following characteristics.
1. Deep Structure is the output of phrase structure rules.
2. Deep Structure is the input of transformation rules to derive Surface Structures.
3. It is the level of grammar that can explain the concept of subject, direct object, and indirect
object.
4. Deep Structure is the level which can solve the problem of ambiguity.
This is the example for transformational structures.
(1) You close the door.
(2) The door is closed by you.

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(3) Close the door!


The first sentence is active, second is passive, and the last is imperative. However, if you take a look
those closely, you will find that those three are very closely related, even identical. They seem to be
identical, since they have the same underlying abstract representation that is called deep structure.
Deep structure is the level which can solve the problem of ambiguity. If you want to analyze the
relation of those three sentences, the first you have to know about the deep structure of them, since
deep structure is the input of transformation rules. Transformation rules are sets of rules which will
change or move constituents in the structures derived from the phrase structure rules.
e.g1>

(1) The DS (deep structure)

(2) The passive transformation rule is applied.


SD (structure Description) :
1234
SC (structural change) :
3 4 + be 2 + en 1
SS (Surface structure) :
The door is closed by you.
(3) The deletion rule is applied.
SD :
1234
SC :
o234
SS :
Close the door!
Eg2> Surface Structure gives the proper phonological information to express the situation.
Deep Structure

Surface Structure

Boy kiss Girl.


[It gives the semantic components of a sentence.]
[It does not help distinguish among ambiguous sentences.]
The boy kissed the girl.
He kissed the girl.
The boy was kissing the girl.
The girl was kissed by the boy.
The girl was kissed.

References
1. Definition of Ambiguity :
https://www.scribd.com/doc/94384413/Lexical-and-Structural-Ambiguity
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2. Garden path : http://grammar.about.com/od/fh/g/gardenpathterm.htm


3. Examples of deep structure and surface structure :
http://awinlanguage.blogspot.com/2012/04/deep-structure-vs-surface-structure.html

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