2. What is structural ambiguity?

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Syntactic ambiguity has been addressed in almost all major linguistic theories; however, within transformational generative grammar it has been assigned a far greater methodological importance than in other schools. This paper investigates the different types of ambiguity and their role in the development of linguistic arguments. An operational framework is presented in which the external adequacy condition of structural ambiguity can be evaluated. A detailed investigation is presented of the arguments based on structural ambiguity which have been put forth in the literature in support of an independent syntactic level of deep structure. It is concluded that such arguments fail, primarily because of fundamental problems concerning the status and empirical nature of ambiguity.


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