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Student Material

Chapter 2: Language and rhetoric

Students’ material: solutions

A

1 syntactic; 2 lexical; 3 lexical *; 4 lexical; 5 syntactic; 6 lexical**; 7 syntactic; 8 syntactic; 9 lexical**; 10 lexical
* ‘can’t’ is ambiguous between ‘he isn’t capable of doing it’ and ‘he’s not allowed to do it’
** There is also a lexical ambiguity in this sentence. ‘By’ is ambiguous: the woman might have been beside a car when she was hit, or it might have been the car that hit her. The sentence is syntactically ambiguous because it is structured in such a way that we cannot tell whether the woman or the car is being serviced. The ambiguity arises because of omission. If the proposition were expressed thus, ‘Woman hit by car that was being serviced.’, it would not be syntactically ambiguous, although it would be lexically ambiguous.

** In both of these cases ‘it’ is ambiguous. In 6 we don’t know whether it refers to the leg or the razor and in 9 we don’t know whether it is the mosquito or the aircraft that was flown to Christchurch for maintenance, but, of course, one interpretation is more likely than the other.

B

1 vague; 2 vague; 3 ambiguous; 4 vague; 5 ambiguous; 6 vague; 7 ambiguous; 8 ambiguous; 9 vague; 10 vague

C

1 not many; 2 25%; 3 few; 4 hardly any; 5 most; 6 no; 7 seven; 8 most of the time; 9 almost none; 10 every

D

1 hard; 2 soft; 3 hard; 4 soft; 5 hard; 6 hard; 7 hard; 8 soft; 9 soft; 10 soft

E

1 hard; 2 hard; 3 soft; 4 soft; 5 soft; 6 soft; 7 hard; 8 soft; 9 hard; 10 hard

F

1 a; 2 c; 3 b; 4 a; 5 c; 6 a*; 7 b; 8 b**; 9 c***; 10 a
* This could also be an example of trading on equivocation. We might think that something’s being the most popular makes it the best product of its kind, when, in fact, it’s the most popular because it’s the cheapest or because it tends to get bundled in with operating software packages.
** The meanings of the terms ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘operational’ are vague in this context, so this is an example of trading on equivocation. The term ‘weapons of mass destruction’ has also operated as a buzzword in the context of making a case in favour of the war in Iraq. The sentence could also function as an appeal to fear.
*** This is an example of the smokescreen tactic because the primary topic seems to be the moral question of honouring one’s commitments, but that topic becomes obscured by a move to talking about the burden allegedly placed on public finances by refugees and engagement with the original topic is prevented.

H
a “wrote on”
He wrote a successful book, the subject of which was reinforced concrete.
He was the author of a successful book which he inscribed on reinforced concrete.

b "seen"
A blind woman gets a new kidney from her father whom she hasn't met up with or spent any time with for a number of years.
A blind woman gets a new kidney from her father whom she hasn't received any visual impression of for many years.

c "the same"
I've just noticed that the car which I drive is of the same make and model as the car that Brian drives.
I've just noticed that Brian and I share a single car, in the sense that both of us drive that very same car.

d "parking warden backwards"
That car has the phrase "parking warden" written backwards on its window.
That car has the phrase "parking warden backwards" written on its window.

e "never again".
Don't utter the word "never" anymore.  Don't ever utter the phrase "never again".

f "windy"
It was blowing a gale and she faltered as she walked up the path, because the path wound all over the place.
It was blowing a gale and she faltered as she walked up the path, because the wind was so strong.

g "paint"
I put paint on houses.
I use paint to create images of houses.

h "wear ...  out".
Don't wear that dress in public.
Don't wear that dress so much that it gets tatty.

i "may"
Customers should note that our agents are not allowed to pay by credit card.
Customers should note that our agents are not required to pay by credit card.

j "straightened invisibly"
Have your teeth straightened by a process which you will not be able to see happening.
Have your teeth straightened by a process that will prevent people from realising that anything has happened to them.

k "rotated"
Have your tyres moved from wheel to wheel automatically.
Have your tyres revolve automatically.

l "all right"
The man who had his left side removed is well now.
The man who had his left side removed only has a right side now.

m "human intelligence"
The main flaw in US intelligence is the failure to have an adequate way of covertly obtaining information from other people and about the doings of other people.
The main flaw in US intelligence is the fact that not enough key people are sufficiently smart.

n "public interest"
Of course, newspapers should comment on the private lives of ultra-famous celebrities, because the public find the lives of these people interesting.
Of course, newspapers should comment on the private lives of ultra-famous celebrities, because it is reasonable for the public to know about the lives of these people.

o "go far enough"
Walking school buses are meant to make it safer for kids to walk to school, but walking school buses don't do enough to alleviate the problems.
Walking school buses are meant to make it safer for kids to walk to school, but walking school buses don't cover a sufficiently large physical distance.

p "sentence"
An actor was sent to gaol for not completing all that he was required to do by the court as a result of a conviction.
An actor was sent to gaol because he did not complete the sentence he was saying or writing.

q "of"
We wonder who, in the future, will be the prophets.
We wonder which people will be the prophets who tell us what is going to happen in the future.

r "new woman"
We have a woman at the top of the international tennis ratings who wasn't at the top before.
We have a woman at the top of the international tennis ratings who has not been a woman for long.

s "bear"
The chief executive is not able to become a natural parent.
The chief executive cannot stand children.

t "joins"
The sole survivor of a pair of Siamese twins becomes physically attached to the parents.
The sole survivor of a pair of Siamese twins is brought into the company of the parents.
The sole survivor of a pair of Siamese twins physically attaches her parents to each other.

u "appeal to"
The Pope likes prostitutes.
Some prostitutes ask for support, assistance, or a ruling from the Pope.]

v "strikes"
A teacher hits some idle children.
A teacher comes across some idle children.

w "paint"
I use paint to create images of naked people.
I put paint on naked people.

x "lying in bed"
An adulterous husband admits that he was prostrate in bed.
An adulterous husband admits to saying, while he was in bed, something which he knew to be false.

y "overlooked"
The Church building has offered a view of the unsightly rubbish tip for fifty years.
The Church hierarchy has chosen to ignore the unsightly rubbish tip for fifty years.

z "in four places"
My arm was broken in four different geographical locations: it got broken in each of Reykjavik, Oslo, Los Angeles and Auckland.
My arm was broken at four different points: near the shoulder, at the elbow, halfway down the forearm and at the wrist.

 

I
a John, who was carrying a magnifying glass, was seen by Mary.

b At least one person is killed on the roads every day.

c Could mean: During the whole of the day, it is not the case that the skies are cloudy. Or: It is not the case that throughout the whole of the day, the skies are cloudy.

d Parents who love their children rarely do so because their children have free will, but for other reasons.

e Could mean: I am coming, but not because I need a break. Or: I need a break, so I’m not going to come.

f Could mean: Please tell the committee about the changes you would like.  Or: Please tell us about how you would like the committee to be changed.

g Could mean: You mustn’t miss our sale of big jackets and pants. Or: You mustn’t miss out big sale, there will be jackets and pants.

h Could mean: The Prime Minister has demanded that the Housing Corporation consider appealing a decision by the Tenancy Tribunal that allowed a tenant with gang connections to stay in the Prime Minister’s Auckland home. Or: The Prime Minister has demanded that the Housing Corporation think carefully about an appeal against a Tenancy Tribunal against a Tenancy Tribunal decision allowing a tenant with gang connections to stay in the Prime Minister’s Auckland home. Or: The Prime Minister has demanded that the Housing Corporation consider appealing a decision by the Tenancy Tribunal that allowed a tenant with gang connections to stay in the tenant’s Auckland home. Or: The Prime Minister has demanded that the Housing Corporation think carefully about an appeal against a Tenancy Tribunal against a Tenancy Tribunal decision allowing a tenant with gang connections to stay in the tenant’s Auckland home.

i Could mean: In almost every area of government there are some economists. Or: There are some individuals who work as economists almost every area of government.

j The US resolution recognizing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as an act of genocide has been condemned by Turkey.

k Could mean: There are more pigs in Denmark than people in Denmark. Or: There are more pigs in existence than there are people in Denmark.

l Japanese developers hope that by 2015 they will have built a robot which can lift elderly people out of their beds.

m Could mean: The car with a broken antenna was scratched by Michael. Or: Michael used a broken antenna to scratch the car.

n Could mean: Kelly’s mother thought that she (Kelly’s mother) was more committed to the business than Kelly was committed to it. Or: Kelly’s mother thought that Kelly was less committed to the business than Kelly in fact was.

o Could mean: there is a person such that this person needs to drive us home.  Or: We need some person or other (it doesn't especially matter who) to drive us home.

p Could mean: I like pudding more than I like you. Or: I like pudding more than you like pudding.

q Could mean: Richard Swinburne proposed a doxastic venture model of faith, although he didn’t use that name to describe the model. Richard Swinburne ,writing under a different name, proposed a doxastic venture model of faith.

r Could mean: The church can help stop your life from slipping on a downward spiral. Or: The church can help you get your life slipping on a downward spiral.

s Could mean: With a smile, he greeted everyone. Or: Everyone who was smiling was greeted by him.

t Could mean: The Government wants there to be a smaller number of public servants of a high-quality. Or: The Government demand for high-quality public servants has been reduced.

u Could mean: Men are worse than women at shopping for food. Or: Women can shop for men worse than they can shop for food.

v Could mean: I am wondering whether, or planning to have, a video marathon this weekend.  Or: My mind is occupied with thoughts about a video marathon this weekend.

w Adolescents know the difference between right and wrong. Most mentally retarded people also know the difference between right and wrong.

x Could mean: An adulterous husband admits, while he is in bed, that he told a lie.  Or: An adulterous husband admits that while he was in bed, he told a lie.  (Note that this example also contains a lexical ambiguity which was considered in the previous exercise.)

y Finish 4-in-1 Powerball cuts through grease and blasts away tough stains caused by things such as lasagne.

z Could mean: Lap belts in cars are more harmful to children than they are to adults. Or: Adults cause less harm to children than lap belts do.

 

J
In each of the following cases, state whether the ambiguity is lexical, syntactic, or some kind of combination of the two.  Explain your answer as carefully as you can.

a Strictly it is syntactic, even though it turns on the meaning of "their"..  The ambiguity has to do with whether the word "their" refers to the sentences or to the ambiguous words or phrases.

b Syntactic.  It means either: If we do not receive any news, then this can be construed as receiving good news.  Or: No matter what news we receive, it will not be good.

c Answer: Both lexical and syntactic.  The word "duck" is ambiguous.  If "duck" is meant to pick out the small bird, then "her duck" is the object of the verb "saw".  But if "duck" is synonymous with "lower her head", then it is part of a more complex verb phrase.  So the lexical ambiguity gives rise to two sentences with different syntactic structures.

d Answer: syntactic: It could mean either: The examiners are agreeing to return fourteen hundred test papers at most and they are refusing to return any more until fees are paid by students.  Or: There are more than fourteen hundred test papers which the examiners are refusing to return until fees are paid by students.

 

K
For each of the following, identify the quantifier and say whether the generalisation is soft or hard:

a "every"; Hard.

b "A small number of"; soft.

c "just about nobody"; soft.

d "a number of"; soft.

e "all"; hard.

f "practically every"; soft.

g “many”; soft.

h “as a rule”; soft.

i “not a man”; hard.

j “a few”; soft.

k “no”; hard.

 

L
Each of the following sentences expresses a generalisation, but its quantifier is missing.  For each sentence, if it is true as a hard generalisation, add an appropriate quantifier to make it a hard generalisation.  If it could only be true as a soft generalisation, add an appropriate quantifier to make it a soft generalisation.  (You might need to do a little bit of research in a few cases in order to get the right quantifier.)

a Most

b A few

c Many, a lot of, some

d A small, but perhaps significant number of

e A few

f A minority of

g A lot of, not all

h Many

i All

j Most

k Typical

 

M

Name the following rhetorical ploys.

a Many questions

b Buzzwords

c Trading on an equivocation

d Appeal to pity

e Smokescreen

f Trading on an implicature

g Buzzwords

h Trading on an implicature

i There are at least two readings of this sentence. Read non-ironically, (that is, to mean something like ‘let’s continue teaching the class on rhetorical ploys the way we always do’) it may be an appeal to tradition. However, read ironically (that is, to mean that we should not continue teaching in this way because that would be being stuck in a rut) may be able to be described as something like ‘an appeal to change’ or an ‘appeal to bucking tradition’.

j Appeal to tradition

k Trading on an implicature

l  Appeal to novelty

l Appeal to fear

m Appeal to fear / scare tactics.

n Appeal to ridicule

o Appeal to popularity.

p Direct attack

q Scare quotes

r Appeal to guilt or perhaps to the importance of family

s Appeal to cuteness

t Appeal to implicature: it implicates (and might thereby persuade) that they had broken up, but actually they might have been living in different cities because of work commitments.

u Trading on an implicature

v Appeal to popularity

w Appeal to ridicule

 

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