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Quick Reference

Having more than one meaning. The simplest case is lexical ambiguity, where a single term has two meanings. A sentence or grammatically complex construction can be ambiguous without any of the words in it being so, because of structural ambiguity: ‘All the nice girls love a sailor’ can bear at least three meanings for this reason (there is one particular sailor loved by all; to each nice girl her own sailor whom she loves; to each nice girl any sailor is lovable). See also amphiboly, systematic ambiguity, type-token ambiguity, act-object ambiguity.

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