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Sunday, 22 March 2020
Scope ambiguity in natural language processing
It is a type of ambiguity where the doubt is about the syntactic structure of the sentence. That is, there is a possibility that a sentence could be parsed in many syntactical forms (a sentence may be interpreted in more than one way). The doubt is about which one among different syntactical forms is correct.
For example, the sentence “old men and women” is ambiguous. Here, the doubt is that whether the adjective old is attached with both men and women or men alone.
It arises when scope of a part of a sentence is unclear. It usually happens when a sentence have two or more quantifiers (eg. the words like every, any, some etc.).
For example, the sentence “Every man loves a woman” has two possible meanings as follows;
1. For every man there is a woman such that he loves her
2. There is one particular woman who is loved by every man
Based on the scope given to the quantifiers “every” and “a”, the meaning of the sentences could be decided. For instance, if the scope is given to the quantifier every, then the meaning 1 arises. If the scope is given to the quantifier a, then the meaning 2 arises.
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