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Ambiguity by Susanne Winkler


by Susanne Winkler

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Ambiguity: Language and Communication, edited by Susanne Winkler, is a collection of multidisciplinary essays on ambiguity. These fields include linguistics, literary studies, rhetoric, law and theology. This is less for the general public than for those involved in the study and/or application of communication within any of these fields. That said, it can serve as a lower level intro as well as a springboard for further research for the advanced, so the audience is rather wide for an academic work.

The collection uses as a focal point what they call the Ambiguity Model, which is a matrix with two main parameters. One parameter is whether the ambiguity occurs in the production or the reception process and the other is whether the ambiguity is deliberate or nondeliberate (strategic or nonstrategic). This model is explained clearly in the introduction and then applied throughout.

My personal interest was in the literary study and rhetoric areas. The essay I found most useful was on one of Shakespeare's sonnets. The model allows for the sonnet to be reasonably understood in two distinct ways, which in and of itself isn't a breakthrough. What the use of the model does is ground these interpretations in an easily analysed form. What the essay accomplished was less to prove a point about the sonnet and more to demonstrate the application of the Ambiguity Model to, in this case, a literary work.

I would recommend this book to any student of linguistics, communications and any field within which a better understanding of the process by which we communicate is important. The areas listed above are certainly the most likely but I think the application of the model could benefit those in education and many other fields.

Reviewed from an ARC made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | May 4, 2016 |
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