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Deutungsspielräume

Mehrdeutigkeit als kulturelles Phänomen

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Nicolas Potysch and Matthias Bauer

Dieser Band ist aus einer interdisziplinären Ringvorlesung hervorgegangen, die von den Doktorandinnen und Doktoranden des Tübinger Graduiertenkollegs „Ambiguität: Produktion und Rezeption", federführend Nicolas Potysch und Sophia Kuhs, initiiert und geplant wurde. In den Beiträgen aus 12 verschiedenen Fachgebieten geht es darum, wie sprachliche und semiotische Mehrdeutigkeit an die Deutung der Wirklichkeit rückgebunden ist. Die Beiträge untersuchen Ambiguität (als Mehrzahl abgrenzbarer Bedeutungen) und Vagheit (als Spektrum nicht abgrenzbarer Bedeutungen) in Texten und Bildern. In Verbindung damit diskutieren sie zahlreiche Phänomene in kultureller, politischer, juristischer, psychologischer und didaktischer Praxis, die deutungsoffen und deutungsbedürftig sind.

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Der Mythos der eindeutigen Beschreibung – Mehrdeutigkeit in der Objektbenennung als graduelles Phänomen

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Abstract

In semantics, ambiguity is considered to be a binary concept: a word is either ambiguous by virtue of relating to two or more distinct concepts, or it is not, with no unclear cases. In contrast to this, the nature of vagueness is precisely the presence of unclear cases and the impossibility of a clear distinction. The assumption of ambiguity as a binary concept was partly transferred from semantics to pragmatics. Thus, most research on the computational generation of referring expressions rests on the assumption that a description such as the red ball is distinguishing – and thus uniquely identifies the referent – if the properties RED and BALL are both true of the intended referent, but no other object in the context has both properties. If, however, another object exists in the context for which both properties are true, the expression is considered to be ambiguous and therefore not appropriate.

In this paper, I question this fundamental assumption from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective. I demonstrate that perceptual and cognitive phenomena such as visual salience and graded properties do not allow for a binary concept of distinguishing descriptions. I will further show that humans successfully resolve ambiguous referring expressions based on salience. Based on this discussion, I argue for a graded measure of reference ambiguity, discriminatory power. I present the probabilistic reference and grounding mechanism PRAGR (Mast & Wolter, 2013) which uses the concept of discriminatory power in order to generate and resolve...

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