A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Ambiguity

One of the problems with writing is the author needs to ensure that the meaning comes out the way they intended it. This applies regardless of what language you are writing in, all natural languages are ambiguous.

Here’s a commonly used example from a computer language lesson. It’s in the form of a quiz.

Would you rather be paid $1000 weekly or $1000 biweekly?

A• Weekly.

B• Biweekly.

C• It depends.

D• I’m not in it for the money!

Which did you choose? There is no correct answer, however unless you are doing it for altruistic reasons, “It depends” would be the best answer.

Lets look at Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary for the definition of biweekly. It has two meanings;

1: occurring twice a week

2: occurring every two weeks, (fortnightly)

So do you want to change your answer?

Being clear about what we mean, can benefit us, and avoid conflicts. This issue is very important when dealing with people from another culture and who speak our native tongue as a second language.

Here’s another look at a word which could confuse someone. What comes to mind when the word skirt is said?

From the Free Dictionary comes the following:

1. The part of a garment, such as a dress or coat, that hangs freely from the waist down.
2. A garment hanging from the waist and worn by women and girls.
3. A part or attachment resembling the skirt of a garment, especially:

a. One of the leather flaps hanging from the side of a saddle.
b. The lower outer section of a rocket vehicle.
c. A flexible strip hanging from the base of an air-cushion vehicle.
d. A piece of fabric that extends over or beyond something to afford protection.
4. An outer edge; a border or margin: a base camp on the skirt of the mountain.
5. skirts The edge, as of a town; the outskirts.
6. Offensive Slang A woman.
Also in Thailand the hood of your car where the engine is located can be referred to as a skirt.
So the question is are you being clear about what you are communicating to others, or are you being ambiguous?

 

 

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One thought on “Ambiguity

  1. I like to call it mysterious! 😉

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