Sep 1, 2010

Pragmatic ambiguity

I enrolled myself into the Computational Linguistics course this semester, so far we had one lecture and I am supposed to submit the homework tomorrow, though I do not have the text book yet.

Our professor discussed about structural ambiguity and I was thinking of possible example in Bengali, and still thinking. In English, if we say The girl hit the boy with a book, it can be parsed two ways: The girl [hit the boy], with a book; or The girl hit [the boy with a book]. The reason for this ambiguity is the use of the preposition 'with', it can mean both things.

I was looking for examples on Pragmatic ambiguity for the homework. So what about this sentence: "Is the program running?": a correct sentence in all sense, but am I asking if a program is being aired on TV or a being executed in computer ? Depends upon in what situation I am speaking and who am I speaking to.

However, now I feel thankful to my 8th grade Bengali grammar book, yesterday when the professor was talking about morphology, phonology etc. I just remembered the examples from that grammar book with the Sanskrit based Bangla words; who could think this will come handy in my computer science graduate studies !