Amphiboly is a matter of linguistic ambiguity, which, in its turn, is essentially related to the intractable natural issue of the disparity between what we can possibly think and what we can actually express through language. The papers on various types of ambiguity and the solutions to them are not few. However, as with almost everything of a theoretical nature in language, they are far from being enough to cover the complexity of the issue in point. The present paper does not claim to solve amphiboly once and for all: it only proposes a framework that can be followed easily by those interested in the interpretation of similar sentences and in the production of unequivocal ones. The material selected for analysis consists in a few sentences, collected mainly from online sources, in which amphiboly caused by prepositional-phrase attachment is present. Some instruments provided by Syntax and Morphology as branches of Linguistics are used to interpret them so that the framework of reasoning that we provide can be used whenever a similar structure needs disambiguation.
Dr Valentina Curelariu is Lecturer of English Language and ELT Methodology. Her work focuses on language areas such as Syntax, Stylistics, Psycholinguistics, and Rhetoric.