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The Symbolic Systems Forum at Stanford: Tom Wasow, Linguistics and Philosophy Departments, "Why Is Language So Ambiguous?"

Why Is Language So Ambiguous?featuringThomas A. WasowLinguistics and Philosophy DepartmentsMonday, November 30, 201512:30-1:20 pmBuilding 460, Room 126 (Margaret Jacks Hall)
Linguists and philosophers of language often assume that ambiguity is an undesirable property of linguistic expression.  This is intuitive, because ambiguity requires addressees to pick the intended interpretation, and this increases the danger of miscommunication.  But work in computational linguistics in the 1970s revealed that even simple sentences often have large numbers of possible parses.  This raises the question of why languages are so ambiguous.  This talk explores several possible ways in which ambiguity may be useful, either in promoting efficient communication or in serving some other purpose of the speaker. 



Monday, November 30, 2015. 12:30 PM


460-126 (Margaret Jacks Hall)


Symbolic Systems Program