## Subsection7.2.3More Structural Ambiguity

Other syntactic structures can also lead to ambiguity.

Suppose we have:

[1] Chris is crazy about Blake.

[2] Chris sort of likes Tracy.

[3] Tracy is far and away Blake’s biggest fan.

Now consider:

[4] Chris likes Blake better than Tracy.

Is [4] true (given what we already know)? We can’t answer this simple question because [4] is ambiguous. Which of these does it mean:

[4] Chris likes Blake better than Chris likes Tracy.

[4] Chris likes Blake better than Tracy likes Blake.

Based on what we know from [1] – [3], [4] is true. But [4] is false.

### ExercisesExercises

#### 1.

Consider: Jia speaks Chinese more fluently than French.

Possible meanings for this sentence have the form:

Jia speaks Chinese more fluently than speaks .

Write down all the meanings that aren’t nonsense (in our everyday world). In other words, write down all the combinations of ways to fill in the two blanks.

Solution.
Explanation: Since languages don’t speak other languages, the only sensible interpretation is that Jia speaks Chinese more fluently than Jia speaks French.

#### 2.

Consider: Jia speaks Chinese more fluently than Jean.

Possible meanings for this sentence have the form:

Jia speaks Chinese more fluently than speaks .

Write down all the meanings that aren’t nonsense (in our everyday world). In other words, write down all the combinations of ways to fill in the two blanks.

Now indicate which of the following ways of filling in the blanks correspond(s) to the meanings you have written:

1. Just A = Jia; B =Jean

2. Just A = Chinese; B = Jean

3. Just A = Jean; B = Chinese

4. Both A = Jia; B = Jean AND A = Chinese; B = French

5. Both A = Jia; B = French AND A = French; B = Chinese

Solution.
Explanation: Since languages don’t speak other languages, we rule out all of the cases where (A) is filled with a language. Since people aren’t spoken, we also rule out all of the cases where (B) is filled with a person. That leaves only that Jia speaks Chinese more fluently than Jean speaks Chinese.

#### 3.

Consider: Jia knows Harper better than Morgan.

Possible meanings for this sentence have the form:

Jia knows Harper better than knows .

Write down all the meanings that aren’t nonsense (in our everyday world). In other words, write down all the combinations of ways to fill in the two blanks.

Now indicate which of the following ways of filling in the blanks correspond(s) to the meanings you have written:

1. Just A = Jia; B = Morgan

2. Just A = Harper; B = Morgan

3. Just A = Jean; B = Harper

4. Both A = Jia; B = Morgan AND A = Harper; B = Morgan

5. Both A = Jia; B = Morgan AND A = Morgan; B = Harper