Federica Casadei

Ambiguity in high-frequency lexicon

  • Abstract

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The relationship between frequency and polysemy is well known in statistical linguistics, and recent works show that a relationship exists between frequency and homonymy, too. A quantitative analysis of polysemy and homonymy in high-frequency Italian lexicon (VdB) confirms that frequency and ambiguity are strongly related: the percentage of both polysemic lexemes and lexemes whose forms have homonyms is much greater in VdB than in the overall lexicon (respectively 89% vs. 19% and 55% vs. 10-24%). This finding seems to support the hypothesis that lexical ambiguity, far for being only an obstacle to communication, is a necessary and functional element of language architecture.

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