Thus, “ambiguous” is both dependent on context and a term of criticism in much the same ways as “vague.” But these kinds of unclarity differ in other ways. In a context where the use of a word is ambiguous, it is not clear which of two meanings to attach to a word. In a context where the use of a word is vague, we cannot attach any precise meaning to the use of a word.
So far we have talked about the ambiguity of individual terms or words. This is called semantic ambiguity. But sometimes we do not know which in- terpretation to give to a phrase or a sentence because its grammar or syntax admits of more than one interpretation. This is called syntactic ambiguity or amphiboly. Thus, if we talk about the conquest of the Persians, we might be refer- ring either to the Persians’ conquering someone or to someone’s conquering Ambiguity the Persians. Sometimes the grammar of a sentence leaves open a great many possible interpretations.
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