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Discussion On Ambiguous Newspaper Headline English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 4552 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This assignment is undertaken to understand the language ambiguity and its constituents. A language is used to convey the thought or idea to the audience or the receiver from communicator side. It may happen that the decoder or the receiver do not understand the sentence in a way, in which they are intended for.

1. ” Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years At Checkout Counter “

Two Sister Reunited after 18 years [at checkout counter]

Two sisters reunited after 18 years at checkout counter1 (a) 1(b)

The Sentence “Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years At Checkout Counter ” has been shown above with the help of tree diagrams..1 (a) and 1 (b)



Suggest the sentence meaning that two sister reunited after 18 years at the checkout counter of a mall or at any other premises. It means that they meet after a long time after 18 years.

1 (b)

Argue that on the funny part that it has been taken a long 18 year to clear the checkout counter hence the two sisters meet after 18 years. This cannot be possible in a real scenario that such a long time has been taken to clear the checkout counter for the sisters.

2. ” Man Eating Piranha Mistakenly Sold As Pet Fish”

2 (e)

A man who is eating a piranha which was mistakenly sold as a pet fish

A piranha of the man-eating variety which was mistakenly sold as a pet fish2 (a)

A man mistakenly eating a piranha which was sold as a pet fish

A man sold as a pet fish who is mistakenly eating a piranha.2 (b)

2 (d)

A man, eating a piranha, who himself was mistakenly sold as a pet fish. 2 (c )


2 (a) means that a man is eating piranha which was sold to by mistake as a pet fish, hence man is innocent and don’t know about the piranha, he was eating. He is eating the piranha as a simple fish without being aware of this nature of the fish.

2 (b) Here the man who is eating piranha sold the pet fish. Here the subject is man who sold the pet fish while eating a piranha.

2 (c) From this we can guess the man being himself sold as a pet fish while he was eating piranha. The man was eating piranha and he being sold simultaneously.

2 (d) Here the mistake is of man a different from 2 (a) where the fault is of seller. Here the eater made the mistake and by mistake he eats the piranha which was sold as a pet fish.

2 (e) this can also be referred Piranha could be name given to any other thing other than the fish varieties. Hence Piranha could be other editable variety which was sold as a pet fish by mistake.

For Example: “Mary bought a brand new Hitachi radio. It was in Selfridge’s window. Later, when Joan saw it, she too decided it would be good purchase.”

a) Here the part of the above sentence “it was in Selfridge’s window” is a ambiguous statement. A full sure set full specification of the above sentence cannot be given it can lead to two meaning as the referent of the pronoun cannot be specified. Like it can be physically present in Selfridge window.

b) In other case it can be one of the many Hitachi radio that were available at Selfridge’s window. Hence the ambiguity is there but it depends upon the decoder or receiver how he or she perceive things.

3. ” Lawmen from Mexico Barbecue Guests “

Lawmen from Mexico Barbecue Guests

Lawmen from Mexico [Barbecue Guests]

3 (a) 3(b)

3 (a)

Lawmen from Mexico has barbecue his guests a funny ambiguity means the Lawmen a Noun has cooked his guest.


I explain Lawmen is person belong or coming from Mexico is the guest for the day at barbecue party or dinner.

For example:

“I watched some playful children and some happy dogs from the playground”

The argument on this sentence is possible by two ways. How ambiguous the sentence is has been shown in square brackets to denote constituency.

a) I watched [some playful children and some happy dogs] from the playground.

Here the playground qualifies for the viewer not for the playful children and happy dogs hence the watching has been taken place form the play ground and the person see the playful children and some happy dogs in a place other than the play ground.  

(b) [I watched [some playful children and some happy dogs from the playground]] 

Here the playground qualifies for the children and some happy dogs and not for the person who is looking at them hence the playful children and some happy dogs are at ground while the watchful person is not at ground.

4. ” Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Axe “

Enraged Cow injures farmer with Axe

4 (a) 4 (b)

An enraged farmer injures a Cow with an axe

4 (a) It simple suggest that a agitated cow injures farmer with Axe. However this is not possible how a cow can attack over farmer with Axe. As cow don’t know the art the of manipulation of Axe. But the simple meaning of the sentence says that the enraged cow injures farmer with Axe.

4 (b) If we rearrange the wording by little and form a new sentence by new arrangement, we reached to a meaningful conclusion. An enraged farmer injures a cow with an axe which could be possible as it argue that the angered farmer injures the cow with an axe.

Answer 5

Question 5: Grammar (grammatical functions)

Syntactic Category:

A syntactic category can be of two types either a phrasal category it has two part noun phrase and verb phrase. It can further be decomposed into samll-2 syntactic categories or in other way lexical category, such as noun, verb, prepositions, etc. Which further cannot be decomposed?

Basically there are only three criteria available in defining syntactic categories.

The type of meaning it expresses

The type of affixes it takes

The structure in which it occurs

While drawing a linguistic tree it has to be keep in mind that the left side of the arrow can suggest phrasal categories while lexical categories cannot be on the left side of the arrow. Rationally lexical categories are known as part off speech. Any sentence can be broken down into part of speech which includes a subject, verb, prepositions, adjectives, objects and so on so forth. (Linguistics: an introduction to language and communication)

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Grammatical Function:

From the grammatical point of view a grammatical function can be defined as a functional relationship or grammatical relationship between the participants in syntax. For example: subject, adjunct, complement, object etc. it should be noted down that these are different from the semantic notions of agent and patient. It can be demonstrate by the fact that the how the English passive voice change the agent and patient relationship how the object became subject and a subject became object.

a) [The woman who lives in the caravan] [[finally] told [her future husband] [the truth]]

the syntactic category of the first sentence [the woman who lives in the caravan] is lexical category. The woman is noun, which lives are mod, the verbal part is lives and in caravan is the object part. [Finally] is other verbal part. [Her future husband] here the noun part is her that is a pronoun and future husband is the object or verbal part.

Here the woman is a doer and action oriented the noun. Who is an interrogatory word which talked about who live in the caravan that is the woman herself? The future husband is object to whom the truth being told.

b) [After the news about the baby], [Alfie] [felt [a total fool]]

[After the news about the baby] is in itself a full syntax or sentence. Here the noun phrase is the baby and verbal part is after the news about is conjunctions and prepositions. [Alfie] is the persona it can be man or woman not gender specific it’s a noun a subject noun part. Felt is verb which infers that the Alfie fall after as soon he/she heard the news about the baby. [A total fool] it seems to be another additional syntax. Without this syntax the sentence is in it was complete though by addition to this it gives a new meaning to the sentence. It is itself a objective or verbal phrase this was talked about the noun as a total fool total adjective and fool can be noun.

c) [Many viewers] [consider [Alfie] [an unlikely father-figure]]

The first part of the sentence [many viewers] many is the quantum part it is itself is a part of verbal phrase many viewers are the noun who were involve in watching. Consider as a thought of viewer about the Alfie how and what they think about Alfie. [alfie] the in the syntax is again a noun part while in the sentence [consider [Alfie] [an unlikely father-figure]] it is noun part too here it has been talked to consider alfie is unlikely father -figure. [An likely father-figure] is a verbal part. Likely is the verb which describes the viewer’s opinion about the Alfie.


It is common practice among English teacher to discuss about metaphor. And it can be better understood by applying the logic of metaphor as most of the student is having some understanding and grasp of metaphor. Hence metaphor is taken as an example to understand the grammatical form and their fuction. We will understand it taking the example of people and their occupation.

There are only two type of people on the earth man and woman. Since we do live in this real world hence the concept of two types of people or form is comparatively easy for us to comprehend. So, the two forms of people are:



But the occupation in which these two people are engaged are multiple or countless. It may be a teacher, doctor, mother, father , doctor, engineer, manager, supervisor etc. occupations are the function which people do hence they are the functions of people for example







There are only two form (man and woman) while the function for these forms are unlimited for example (teacher, mother, father, doctor etc). The forms are what the people look like and the functions are what they do.

It is not imperative that the man form of people can manage all the function, for example a man can not be a mother or a woman cannot be a father. A man can be father as well as doctor too. A woman can be a mother as well as teacher too. Hence it may or may not be possible for a fore to perform one or more than one function or any specific function. But for a function may or may not be performed by any form.

Answer 6

The given is the list of utensils commonly used in kitchen. After carrying on the practical task as asked in the question at hand, the results were found. The following are the kitchen utensils selected by the 3 participants

Participant 1



frying pan








Participant 2




wooden spoon





chopping board


Participant 3





salad spinner


sink plug




Rating of the utensils as written by the first 3 participants were as follows:-

Participant A

bread- bin – 3

fork – 2

frying pan – 2

knife – 1

microwave -3

mixer -3

oven -2

plate – 1

spoon – 3

toaster -1

Participant B

teacup 3

teapot -2

spoon -1

wooden spoon -4

oven -3

microwave -3

plate -2

bowl – 2

chopping board -7

fork -3

Participant C

toaster -2

nutcracker -4

saucer -2

saucepan -4

salad spinner -5

sink-plunger -5

sink plug – 5

bowl -2

plate -2

blender -3

Prototype theory, basically aims to understand the nouns commonly used in everyday practice for learning the situation at hand for the daily activities (Ross, 2006; Geeraerts, 2006; Evans and Green, 2006). Both these researchers quite well worked on the theory of prototype to understand the social stereotypes. Ross (2006) divides the prototypes into 4 categories such as:-


There are chances for the vagueness of some of the items. There are certain items such as sink plunger and sink plug, which look sometimes common. Participants are sometimes confused with the words. There are instances that the utensils need to be remembered for use. However, most of the other utensils were clearly recalled by the participants. The participants made use of the utensils, which are quite common in practice. These utensils are found of everyday use in the kitchen’s day- to- day activities. Therefore, the utensils with vagueness were recalled in mind for clarification in front of the participants.


There are chances that the similar products have different level of typicality. The products shall not have that level of complexity attached with them. Nutcracker, for an example is one of the products with quite higher level of complexity attached with it. The respondents have although, easily listed the utensils such as plate, spoon, bowl etc. These utensils are found in common use in the kitchen. This acted as the major factor to retain the memory space of individuals for these utensils.


Some of the products are quite common at the most instances. However, the products, which do not have common practice to be remembered, are also thereon. The genericity of certain products create the need for extensive thought on the product. The spoon and plate for an example, are the generally used products in the kitchen.


It is not an easy task to divide the products into groups. There is the need for clear understanding of the products at hand. This can help in formulation of groups of different types. The categories are designed based on the product of choice, and their features involved, and the usefulness and need of the product in the kitchen.

Thus, there are different types of utensils being found of common practice in the kitchen. These products are easy to remember and are used more and more in kitchen operations. The individuals (participants in this case) are more prone to make use of these utensils, and are thus more easily able to recall the products in their list. These products have different features attached with them. For example, spoon and wooden spoon are common words to some extend. These are used more and more in a similar manner. Therefore, the individuals did not need to put up much of their efforts to recall these products at once.

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Utensils such as saucer and sauce pan are somewhat related terms. The Participant 3 was able to recall these utensils in a flow. The main reason for this might be because of the relatedness of these products. Additionally, sink plunger and sink plug are also the related terms. The 3rd participant was able to identify these products also at once. Therefore, there are some of the products of common practice. However, others are not commonly used in the kitchen for daily use. The products of more use are easily listed by the participants, whereas for the rarely used ones, it is required that they memorise them before listing. However, depending on the use and need of these utensils, the participants listed them in different order. They have also covered different range of products in their list. The factor again depends on ones’ use and need of the product.

Answer 7

From the list of words provided, I have selected ‘guess’ word. Using this word, the below sections would have ten examples at place. Although there are n number of sentences that can be formed from any grammar word, but as per the requirement, I have made use of the word to write here 10 examples. The search on web had provided me with very large number of examples to select from, but I have tried to do the selection of examples for each of the 10th (or sometimes may be more then that) selection. The focus I had used is to try to cover wide range of areas to write different kind of examples hereon. The below are the examples written in my own words:-

The word guess in dictionary means (The American Heritage, 2009; Murphy, 2010):-

To predict about anything, without the sufficient available information

To assert about anything without complete details

Word Guess

My last birthday was an astonishing event for me. I guess; I was floating in the air due to the grant arrangement done by my parents to celebrate the day for me.

Hereon, the speaker made use of the word ‘guess’ to exemplify his last birthday party in which he enjoyed the day and felt like he was floating in the air. The ‘floating in air’ here means that he would remember the day due to importance attached with it. Thus, the use of word here is not exactly in line with the dictionary meaning, although the interpretation is same.

The blue sky is today covered with clouds. I guess it would rain.

Hereon, the speaker assumes that it would rain from the limited information he has. He is estimating that rainfall would occur because of the clouds all around and does not make use of other information sources, such as weather forecast or any other source to identify humidity level etc.

My net book is not working today. I guess there is some problem with the software of it due to some virus attack.

Hereon, as the speaker says that his net book is not working properly, he assumes that there is the problem in software part of the net book (not the hardware part as per his saying) and this is due to the attack of virus.

I had worked hard to prepare for exams during my last summer. I guess I would top the class this time.

Here, the speaker assumes that his hard work would make him attain good marks in the class examination, so that he can attain top position in the class.

I guess you are squeezing against my proposal in the company, as the boss is not entertaining me anymore now.

Here, the speaker is suspicious about the change in behaviour of his boss. He assumes it because of his the other person. Thus, the dictionary meaning is well used in the example for this case.

The economy is improving now after the crash of economy of US in the year 2008; I guess it would not happen again.

The speaker here is making an assumption from very limited information. As per his words, the present economy is improved now after the crisis- situation for the year 2008, and he assumes from this, that the economy would continue its growth and would not fail further. This seems to be very tough assumption made by him.

My son had failed in his last examination due to his unhealthy situation during exams, but now he is perfectly fit to give the exams. I guess he would score well this time.

Here father says that his son had failed in the last examination due to his unhealthy situation. This time, he makes an assumption that his son would score well this time due to his good health. Again, this is in line with the meaning of the word ‘guess’.

Brazil had performed great in the last soccer against England. I guess Brazil is maintaining good fitness of its players.

Here the speaker makes assumption from the good performance of Brazilian team, that its players are physically fit. This is mainly due to the reason that the team players are performing good. Thus, the speaker has made use of the word guess in the right manner.

My all students are working hard day and night to score first class in this examination. I guess this motivation is due to the conference they attended last week.

Here, the teacher assumes that his students are increasingly making efforts to gain better marks in the class. This is mainly due to the reason that they had attended the conference of motivation last week. Thus, it is assumed that the conference has helped the students to work hard for getting better marks.

My uncle is very good in stock market analysis. I guess he took the right decision to invest in the shares of XYZ Company.

Hereon, the speaker assumes that the strong knowledge of his uncle, in stock market would not fail. He assumes that his uncle would never make any wrong decision. Uncle’s investment in the shares of company XYZ would not be a wrong decision as per the assumption of speaker. Thus, the meaning of the word guess is again similar to that of the dictionary meaning hereon.

Thus, there was quite a mixed approach found in the results. These are quite in line with the dictionary meaning at most of the instances. However, the first sentence, in spite of the similar meaning, is used in a different manner.

Answer 8

The session here uses discourse strategies to explore the speech of Tony Blair. Discourse strategies are quite a common way to evaluate the strategy used by the speaker (or speakers) to share their thoughts with others. In this process, it becomes mandatory for one to evaluate the discourse in a thorough manner. Zammuner (1981) designed these discourse strategies. The discussion is about the social and linguistic context to describe the way in which the speaker shares his thoughts in front of the whole genera. The person also uses the approach of rephrasing. However, at some of the instances, he used quite common ways of explanations.

The speaker in the given details has made use of the narrative discourse strategy. He is recalling everything he had experienced right from the start. The speaker has made use of descriptive sentences in his speech. The socio cultural knowledge studied well by Drew (1992) has been explored in the speech. The speaker started with an effort to thank all those people who had helped him in one or the other way to be at such a position. The author had then used his narrative approach to describe his past. He discussed the matter with all the people around to describe the ways in which he started with the work. There is no standard pattern in which, the discourse strategy of linguistic nature and interactional nature correlate with each other (Stubbe, 1999). There shall be the requirement to follow set of patterns in order to attain outcomes.

The author had initially used the approach for transmission of his sentences to the audience. The use of socio linguistic approach by him helps in creating an environment in which all the audience feels comfortable for being their. The sensual lines used by the speaker such as

“It’s about friendship, art, culture, sport. It’s about being a fully paid up member of the human race before being a fully paid up member of the Labour party.”

These lines demonstrate the degree of sense in which speaker says that he lived in the very good environment, which is full of comfort. These points have raised the attention of the audience. The satisfactory words motivated listeners to take an interest in hearing. These adds to the liveliness of the speech. The speaker has also thanked all the people for their support in one or the other way to make him reach to the position he reached at present.

The speaker had also made an effort to make the environment cool making use of his sense of humour. His sentence

“I know I look a lot older. That’s what being leader of the Labour party does to you.”

Is followed by the sentence

“Actually, looking round some of you look a lot older.”

This showed that he thanked the people for considering him as an important part of the society. Just after this thought, he said that he has grown older in the work place. This was said with an attempt to make the joyous scenario in the hall. He followed this sentence by saying that he is not only the old person, but others are even older then him. Thus, the approach made use of the humorous environment to maintain the liveliness of the environment. The people increasingly took interest in his speech.

The confidence of the speaker shall be appreciated. He has made use of a good sense of variation in his speech to make the scenario more interesting. His thoughts started from the time he started being the part of the society. He explained how he went to the John Burton in a narrative manner. Further, he explored the way he got response from John Burton at his home. This helped him in understanding that the human beings are of top priority. The human beings should be given due importance for managing any task. These should not be ignored. The socio linguistic environment should be there for one and all. Individuals shall actively participate in the speech program by making the lively environment. There should not be any lack of confidence in the people participating in any discussion.

He added that the staff of NHS was of quite importance to make them reach to this level. The information exchange is of supreme importance, without which, the work practices can fail abruptly (Coupland, 1991; Borjars, 2010).

Overall, the speaker in sharing his thoughts in front of the whole crowd has used a very good approach. His ideas have been clearly explored. He has made good use of the political sort of speech to attract the people’s attention (Holmes, 1999). The flow of the whole speech was quite appreciable. The speaker has made good use of the selected discourse strategies to cover wide range of topics and attract the attention of listeners. All the individuals must have been quite affected by his speech. The narration of the past record of the speaker was well supported to show his level of satisfaction being thereon with the society. The strategic choice of individuals to consider more and more the people as an important asset was also done. The speaker has used his discourse strategies for covering these wide range of topics to explore his ideas.

However, he could have made a bit more interesting environment by making use of the conversational discourse strategy in which all the individuals would have been participating in the discussion. That would have added to the importance of the speech session of Blair.


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