Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Origins – Statements Of Various Kinds

Do not confuse equivocal with ambiguous. An equivocal statement is purposely, deliberately (and with malice aforethought) couched in language that will be deceptive; an ambiguous statement is accidentally couched in such language. Equivocal is, in short, purposely ambiguous.
You will recall that ambi-, which we last met in ambivert and ambidextrous, is a root meaning both; anything ambiguous may have both one meaning and another meaning. If you say, ‘That sentence is the height of ambiguity’, you mean that you find it vague because it admits of both affirmative and negative interpretation, or because it may mean two different things. Ambiguity is pronounced am’-bi-GYOO-i-ti.
Another type of statement or word contains the possibility of two interpretation – one of them suggestive, risqué, or sexy. Such a statement or word is double entendre. This is from the French and translates literally as double meaning.
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