"Hilarious comedy featuring Eddie Murphy"

Leni85

New Member
Macedonian
"Hilarious comedy featuring Eddie Murphy"

Could someone explain the structural ambiguity in this sentence? I recognize only the obvious meaning of the sentence, that is that Eddie Murphy has a role in the hilarious comedy.

The above example of structural ambiguity is from a written exam on English lexicology.

Thank you.
 
  • Leni85

    New Member
    Macedonian
    You might be right. But I think that than there would be lexical ambiguity in the sentence, and not structural. Is there ambiguity in "featuring" maybe?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    That was all that was given. The task was to explain the ambiguity in the fragment.
    The only ambiguity that I see is that "featuring" might or might not mean "starring," i.e. the top-billed performer.

    For example, the long-running American TV comedy Saturday Night Live, (which, by the way is where the incredibly talented Eddie Murphy got his start) lists performers first as "starring," meaning permanent cast members and then "featuring," listing performers who are aspiring to permanency.

    Were I teaching a class, I would not expect leaners of English to make such a fine distinction in a test.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    This seems more like one possible understanding of a structurally ambiguous sentence, rather than an ambiguous phrase in itself. What else is in the exam exercise? I don't see any ambiguity here. If there is any it is very subtle.

    A textbook example (a headline):
    "Painting found by tree"
    The ambiguity is obvious here. "By" can mean that the subject performs the action "find", or it can mean "near to". It's structurally ambiguous, but not logically, as a tree cannot do the action "find".

    In the topic example a comedy can have the attribute "feature", and I don't see what else can. I don't see any other elements that could be structurally ambiguous.

    It doesn't matter that the phrase is not grammatically a sentence.
     

    Leni85

    New Member
    Macedonian
    The only ambiguity that I see is that "featuring" might or might not mean "starring," i.e. the top-billed performer.

    For example, the long-running American TV comedy Saturday Night Live, (which, by the way is where the incredibly talented Eddie Murphy got his start) lists performers first as "starring," meaning permanent cast members and then "featuring," listing performers who are aspiring to permanency.

    Were I teaching a class, I would not expect leaners of English to make such a fine distinction in a test.
    Thank you very much for your help! I must admit that I have had problem finding a solution by myself. :)
     

    Leni85

    New Member
    Macedonian
    Thank you all for your help. I did not write the exercise on the exam and I was dissapointed because I did not have the slightest clue what the ambiguous in the fragment would be. I will have more questions for you as I am preparing the exam again. :)
     
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