Discussion:
pernicious ambiguity in written English
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Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-07 04:34:27 UTC
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A sentence from a mystery novel, spoken by someone who found clues on an island:

"What we found out there is worrisome."

It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual disambiguation
is available.
Dingbat
2017-12-07 05:08:35 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
found out-there
Lazar Beshkenadze
2017-12-07 09:38:51 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2017-12-07 10:18:21 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
found out-there
Stress?
Yes, and timing, not to mention context.

I don't think any ambiguity should arise in practice. Why would it be
pernicious if it did? Anyway, I think Dingbat may have gone back to his
bad habit, "pernicious", even, of not saying what the message is about
in the message itself. (I only "think" that because I haven't seen his
original message.) It was in part for that and in part because of his
frequent refusal to express his own view that led me to stop reading
his contributions.
--
athel
occam
2017-12-07 10:47:17 UTC
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Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Dingbat
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
found out-there
Stress?
Yes, and timing, not to mention context.
I don't think any ambiguity should arise in practice. Why would it be
pernicious if it did?
Anyway, I think Dingbat may have gone back to his
bad habit, "pernicious", even, of not saying what the message is about
in the message itself.
You have apparently blocked PDT. The original Subject / message
'uncoupling' was perpetrated by PDT.

(I only "think" that because I haven't seen his
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
original message.) It was in part for that and in part because of his
frequent refusal to express his own view that led me to stop reading his
contributions.
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-07 12:32:08 UTC
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Post by occam
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Dingbat
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
found out-there
Stress?
Yes, and timing, not to mention context.
I don't think any ambiguity should arise in practice. Why would it be
pernicious if it did?
Anyway, I think Dingbat may have gone back to his
bad habit, "pernicious", even, of not saying what the message is about
in the message itself.
You have apparently blocked PDT. The original Subject / message
'uncoupling' was perpetrated by PDT.
Apparently now the moron refuses even to look at what is quoted? But if that were so, how could he
utter his utterly uninformed opinion about the two sentences involved?

(It was the Russian gentleman, the one who masquerades as Georgian, who deleted the topic of the
thread, not Ranjit, so the moron's ire is, as so often, sadly misplaced.)

And, precisely because the subject header is decoupled from the message content, the content
of the message was made fully independent of the content of the header.

Of course, he may simply never have become aware of the technical term "pernicious ambiguity"
because of his pervasive ignorance of linguistics.

(occam, though, appears to be afflicted with a sort of dyslexia.)

To answer Ranjit's question, in one sentence "found" is accented, in the other "out" is accented, and
effectively a "pause" results -- not a silence, but the effect of the enhancement of both stress and pitch.
Post by occam
(I only "think" that because I haven't seen his
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
original message.) It was in part for that and in part because of his
frequent refusal to express his own view that led me to stop reading his
contributions.
Dingbat
2017-12-08 08:38:11 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Dingbat
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
found out-there
Stress?
Yes, and timing, not to mention context.
I don't think any ambiguity should arise in practice. Why would it be
pernicious if it did?
To answer Ranjit's question, in one sentence "found" is accented, in the
other "out" is accented, and effectively a "pause" results -- not a silence,
but the effect of the enhancement of both stress and pitch.
Has someone devised a way to put in written form the difference
(in intonation, prosody, or whatever other terms apply)?
Peter Moylan
2017-12-08 08:54:54 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Dingbat
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
found out-there
Stress?
Yes, and timing, not to mention context.
I don't think any ambiguity should arise in practice. Why would it be
pernicious if it did?
To answer Ranjit's question, in one sentence "found" is accented, in the
other "out" is accented, and effectively a "pause" results -- not a silence,
but the effect of the enhancement of both stress and pitch.
Has someone devised a way to put in written form the difference
(in intonation, prosody, or whatever other terms apply)?
Even in a text-only medium there's a simple solution.
*found* out
found *out*
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Jerry Friedman
2017-12-07 15:35:40 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
--
Jerry Friedman
David Kleinecke
2017-12-07 17:58:49 UTC
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Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?

That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
Richard Tobin
2017-12-07 19:36:54 UTC
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Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
Numbers 32:23 (KJV):

But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD:
and be sure your sin will find you out.

-- Richard
Jerry Friedman
2017-12-07 19:57:12 UTC
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Post by Richard Tobin
Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
and be sure your sin will find you out.
And in that sense, which seems archaic to me, "All those sins will
find John out" is the only possible word order in my mind.

In the modern sense, the usual complement is a clause beginning
"that", "what", "where", etc., in which case "found out" stays
together. But I'd say "I found something out," "Mary found those
facts out some days later," etc.

There's also "I went to John's house and found him out." (He wasn't
there.) That sounds old-fashioned to me.
--
Jerry Friedman
Richard Tobin
2017-12-07 20:02:20 UTC
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Post by Jerry Friedman
There's also "I went to John's house and found him out." (He wasn't
there.) That sounds old-fashioned to me.
Flanders and Swann:

I've lost my horn
Lost my horn
Found my horn - gone!

-- Richard
Horace LaBadie
2017-12-07 20:36:28 UTC
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Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Richard Tobin
Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
and be sure your sin will find you out.
And in that sense, which seems archaic to me, "All those sins will
find John out" is the only possible word order in my mind.
In the modern sense, the usual complement is a clause beginning
"that", "what", "where", etc., in which case "found out" stays
together. But I'd say "I found something out," "Mary found those
facts out some days later," etc.
There's also "I went to John's house and found him out." (He wasn't
there.) That sounds old-fashioned to me.
"He was found missing when they arrived."

That always sounds odd in the news.
RH Draney
2017-12-07 21:00:15 UTC
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Post by Horace LaBadie
Post by Jerry Friedman
There's also "I went to John's house and found him out." (He wasn't
there.) That sounds old-fashioned to me.
"He was found missing when they arrived."
That always sounds odd in the news.
It's better than what I usually hear, which is "turned up missing"...I
can never be sure if they mean "we don't know what's become of him" or
"we kept looking for him, and eventually there he was!"...r
Dingbat
2017-12-08 08:31:38 UTC
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Post by Horace LaBadie
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Richard Tobin
Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
and be sure your sin will find you out.
And in that sense, which seems archaic to me, "All those sins will
find John out" is the only possible word order in my mind.
In the modern sense, the usual complement is a clause beginning
"that", "what", "where", etc., in which case "found out" stays
together. But I'd say "I found something out," "Mary found those
facts out some days later," etc.
There's also "I went to John's house and found him out." (He wasn't
there.) That sounds old-fashioned to me.
"He was found missing when they arrived."
That always sounds odd in the news.
That finding would be unfounded if he too arrives.
Peter Moylan
2017-12-08 08:40:04 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
Post by Horace LaBadie
"He was found missing when they arrived."
That always sounds odd in the news.
That finding would be unfounded if he too arrives.
In which case the unfound would be found. But if somebody took him away
again, he would be unfounded.
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
b***@aol.com
2017-12-08 16:20:35 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
Post by Horace LaBadie
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Richard Tobin
Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
and be sure your sin will find you out.
And in that sense, which seems archaic to me, "All those sins will
find John out" is the only possible word order in my mind.
In the modern sense, the usual complement is a clause beginning
"that", "what", "where", etc., in which case "found out" stays
together. But I'd say "I found something out," "Mary found those
facts out some days later," etc.
There's also "I went to John's house and found him out." (He wasn't
there.) That sounds old-fashioned to me.
"He was found missing when they arrived."
That always sounds odd in the news.
That finding would be unfounded if he too arrives.
But even then, he could be found missing in intelligence, for instance.
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-08 16:44:21 UTC
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Post by b***@aol.com
Post by Dingbat
Post by Horace LaBadie
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Richard Tobin
Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
and be sure your sin will find you out.
And in that sense, which seems archaic to me, "All those sins will
find John out" is the only possible word order in my mind.
In the modern sense, the usual complement is a clause beginning
"that", "what", "where", etc., in which case "found out" stays
together. But I'd say "I found something out," "Mary found those
facts out some days later," etc.
There's also "I went to John's house and found him out." (He wasn't
there.) That sounds old-fashioned to me.
"He was found missing when they arrived."
That always sounds odd in the news.
That finding would be unfounded if he too arrives.
But even then, he could be found missing in intelligence, for instance.
The word there is "lacking."

Or, old-fashioned, "wanting."

s***@gmail.com
2017-12-07 20:38:28 UTC
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Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Richard Tobin
Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
and be sure your sin will find you out.
And in that sense, which seems archaic to me, "All those sins will
find John out" is the only possible word order in my mind.
In the modern sense, the usual complement is a clause beginning
"that", "what", "where", etc., in which case "found out" stays
together.
My example:
I found out /about/ John.
Post by Jerry Friedman
But I'd say "I found something out," "Mary found those
facts out some days later," etc.
I'd probably keep Mary's out by her found, but given verbal mid-stream editing
I can't promise that I will.
Post by Jerry Friedman
There's also "I went to John's house and found him out." (He wasn't
there.) That sounds old-fashioned to me.
+1

I'm was going to add what I would use instead, but now I'm dithering:
one form would be "and found him gone", or "and didn't find him",
or some other version that hasn't come out of the shadows yet.

/dps "it may be on the tip of my tongue tomorrow"
Jerry Friedman
2017-12-07 22:28:06 UTC
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Post by s***@gmail.com
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Richard Tobin
Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
and be sure your sin will find you out.
And in that sense, which seems archaic to me, "All those sins will
find John out" is the only possible word order in my mind.
In the modern sense, the usual complement is a clause beginning
"that", "what", "where", etc., in which case "found out" stays
together.
I found out /about/ John.
...

Ah, that too.
--
Jerry Friedman
Mark Brader
2017-12-07 21:28:49 UTC
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Post by David Kleinecke
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
Sure.
Post by David Kleinecke
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
That would be unusual, but possible. When the object is a pronoun,
though, that's about the only place to put it. Hadn't you found
that out yourself?
--
Mark Brader "Exercise 5-3: ... When should you
Toronto have stopped adding features...?"
***@vex.net -- Kernighan & Pike
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-07 22:16:23 UTC
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Post by David Kleinecke
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
Yes but that's neither of the interpretations of the original sentence! What
they found out included surprising facts, but you couldn't say "they found a
clue out" or anything like that.
s***@gmail.com
2017-12-08 02:18:04 UTC
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Post by David Kleinecke
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
FWIW, I saw this on a mailing list post; the poster's first post:

"It is lovely to join you all up."

The dot-sig is an address, and suggests a Brit, but this may not be their normal usage.
It definitely isn't mine.

/dps
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-08 04:18:20 UTC
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Post by s***@gmail.com
Post by David Kleinecke
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Can the phrasal verb "found out" be separated?
That is, does
They found John out
fly in everybody's idiolects.
"It is lovely to join you all up."
The dot-sig is an address, and suggests a Brit, but this may not be their normal usage.
It definitely isn't mine.
Handcuffs or shackles would work.
Peter Moylan
2017-12-08 04:26:44 UTC
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Post by s***@gmail.com
"It is lovely to join you all up."
The dot-sig is an address, and suggests a Brit, but this may not be their normal usage.
It definitely isn't mine.
I could say that if I were handling the list membership applications.
But it would have to be the first message to the list after it was
created, not just /my/ first message.
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Ross
2017-12-07 19:28:14 UTC
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Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Presumably because a drop in stress marks a constituent boundary.
But another reading which seems quite natural to me has the
stress on "there", and does not resolve the ambiguity.
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-07 22:17:45 UTC
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Post by Ross
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Presumably because a drop in stress marks a constituent boundary.
But another reading which seems quite natural to me has the
stress on "there", and does not resolve the ambiguity.
If you stress the "there," there still isn't equal stress on the other two words.
Ross
2017-12-07 22:36:05 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Ross
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Presumably because a drop in stress marks a constituent boundary.
But another reading which seems quite natural to me has the
stress on "there", and does not resolve the ambiguity.
If you stress the "there," there still isn't equal stress on the other two words.
Whether there is or not, for me the "there"-stressed version is still
ambiguous.
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-07 22:41:59 UTC
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Post by Ross
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Ross
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Presumably because a drop in stress marks a constituent boundary.
But another reading which seems quite natural to me has the
stress on "there", and does not resolve the ambiguity.
If you stress the "there," there still isn't equal stress on the other two words.
Whether there is or not, for me the "there"-stressed version is still
ambiguous.
But since the preceding words aren't evenly stressed, the disambiguation still
resides in their relative weight.
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-07 22:47:34 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Ross
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Ross
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Presumably because a drop in stress marks a constituent boundary.
But another reading which seems quite natural to me has the
stress on "there", and does not resolve the ambiguity.
If you stress the "there," there still isn't equal stress on the other two words.
Whether there is or not, for me the "there"-stressed version is still
ambiguous.
But since the preceding words aren't evenly stressed, the disambiguation still
resides in their relative weight.
"What did you ,find out 'there?" [pointing] vs. "What did you ,find out 'there?"
[pointing somewhere else]

"What did you find ,out 'there?" vs. "What did you find ,out in the 'files?"
Ross
2017-12-07 23:51:48 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Ross
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Ross
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Dingbat
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What we found out there is worrisome."
It of course would not be ambiguous when spoken. No contextual
disambiguation is available.
When spoken, what is the difference between these two?
found-out there
Accent on "out".
Post by Dingbat
found out-there
Accent on "found".
Presumably because a drop in stress marks a constituent boundary.
But another reading which seems quite natural to me has the
stress on "there", and does not resolve the ambiguity.
If you stress the "there," there still isn't equal stress on the other two words.
Whether there is or not, for me the "there"-stressed version is still
ambiguous.
But since the preceding words aren't evenly stressed, the disambiguation still
resides in their relative weight.
For you, OK.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What did you ,find out 'there?" [pointing] vs. "What did you ,find out 'there?"
[pointing somewhere else]
Huh?
Post by Peter T. Daniels
"What did you find ,out 'there?" vs. "What did you find ,out in the 'files?"
The first one might represent an extra bit of time between "find" and "out"
in order to force the out-there interpretation. But if you do the
same thing in the second it becomes odd, because of the semantics of
"out". It would be OK with "fields" instead of "files", or perhaps if
the files were in a shed out the back.

So to repeat: YourEng may very well make disambiguation not only possible
but obligatory. Mine doesn't.
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