WHEN A WORD IS NOT A WORDWe’ve looked at units of meaning smaller than words – morphemes.Sometimes units of meaning can be larger than one word, eg:Look at this question overheard in a car park:‘What do red double yellow lines mean?
WHEN A WORD IS NOT A WORDThe noun phrase ‘double yellow lines’ is being used as one word. There are other phrases that are used in this way: Are you watching Big Brother tonight? How do you do? They want to make sure there is clear blue water between their policies and those of the other parties. Can you think of any other examples?
WORDS AND MEANINGDo words always hold the same meaning?If you look in a dictionary, the answer seems to be yes.But many people get in trouble by meaning one thing but saying another.A radio cricket commentator once said this in a match where the bowler was Michael Holding and the batsman was Peter Willey:‘The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey’
WHY IS THERE CONFUSION IN THESE?1 . Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.2 . Q: What is George W. Bush’s position on Roe vs. Wade? (A famous court judgement in the USA) A: He really doesn’t care how people get out of New Orleans.3 . I still miss my ex-husband. But my aim is improving.4 . Notice in a field: The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.
LEXICAL AMBIGUITYThis occurs when it is not possible to decide on the intended meaning of a word.Identify the problem word in each of the headlines on the next slide.
TROOPS GRILL RUMSFELD OVER IRAQIRAN REMOVES UN’S NUCLEAR SEALSUS OFFENSIVE IN EUPHRATES REGIONWATERVOLE SLIDE ‘CAN BE HALTED’BIRD FLU FOUND IN TURKEYTOASTING SHAKESPEARE IN ARMENIA
SOMETIMES IT’S DELIBERATE:Sometimes shops and businesses exploitpotential ambiguity to create interestingnames.Imagine you are opening either ahairdressers, fish and chip shop, petshop or health food shop. (Or anotherkind of shop) Come up with a name thatuses ambiguity of meaning.
A YEAR OF MONTHS YEARNING FOR METHSJan, youre a thirsty upstart, butIf a brewery be near IdMarchA prolific distance, andMaybe over thatDune wedDuly find company moreAugust whereSipped amber theyConcoct overEnough embers toDissemble a warmth more welcome than any old baren parched land!