A new study looks at "Do Speakers Avoid Ambiguities During Dialogue?" I was curious about the topic, but I found the press release could have been clearer in looking at ambiguities in public speaking!
It starts with an example: if someone told you to "put the apple in the basket on the table," what would you do? Depending on how many apples and baskets are in your kitchen, it might not be clear. Would you move the apple in the basket to the table, or move the apple to the basket on the table?
The researchers say some studies have shown that speakers choose their sentences based, in part, on how easy those sentences are to produce for themselves while not taking ease of comprehension into account.
"An ambiguous phrase is often easier to construct than an unambiguous one, so some people will speak ambiguously even if they are likely to be misunderstood," the statement says.
To learn more about "optional disambiguating words" you can read the full report in Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.
What about my coverage of this report - hopefully not too ambiguous!