Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content

Workshop: Meaning in Context: Pragmatic Communication in Humans and Machines

Ambiguity Advantage under Meaning Activation

Liping Tang


Regarding the presence of ambiguous words in natural language, traditional explanations have focused on the cost of added complexity that would accompany unambiguous languages. In this paper, we suggest that ambiguity may sustain as an inevitable feature of learning languages even without complexity costs. We show that ambiguous words occur more frequently and will therefore more readily be learned with the help of communication context, thus triggering more semantic activations between senses of the ambiguous word. We illustrate this through a game theoretic example.