Home > Ambiguity in Language, Language and Meaning > Many ways of saying the same thing

Many ways of saying the same thing

July 17, 2011

Subjects and Objects can move around.  For example; “Joe gave Bob the ball” also be stated as “The ball was given to Bob by Joe.” Verbs can change “direction.” For example; “Joe gave Bob the ball” can be restated as “Bob received the ball from Joe.” Substitution of Equivalent words or phrases (e.g. synonyms) is often not simple and may be constrained by the semantic context.  For example; you may say that, “Joe ran for office” is the same as “Joe campaigned for office.”  Here “ran” and “campaigned” may be valid synonyms in this context.  However, it may not be correct to substitute “sprinted” for “ran” to produce, “Joe sprinted for office.”  However, if you add a determiner, “the”, before “office”, that substitution may make sense as in, “Joe sprinted for the office.”  Note: You will need to consult the semantic context to determine what is probably meant.  There will be more on this later.

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