Teenagers shouldn't be allowed to drive. It's getting too dangerous on the streets.
This could be taken to mean the teenagers will "be" in danger, or that they will "cause" the danger.
Amphiboly can be used humorously. For example:
I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know.
A famous quotation by
Groucho Marxfrom the comedic film "Animal Crackers". The first sentence alone is unclear about whether the speaker shot the elephant while wearing pajamas or whether the elephant was in the speaker's pajamas.
The duke yet lives that Henry shall depose." (1.4.30)
_la. Edwardum occidere nolite timere bonum est.
Depending on how the reader punctuates this line, this can be interpreted as Edward's death sentence, or as an order to preserve Edward's life:
Fear not to kill the king, 'tis good he die... kill not the king, 'tis good to fear the worst.(5.4.8-11)
Other examples of amphibology
*"Used cars for sale: Why go elsewhere to be cheated? Come here first!"
*"At our drugstore, we dispense with accuracy!"
*"Eat our curry, you won't get better!"
*"(Professor to student, on receiving a fifty-page term paper): "I shall waste no time reading it." (Often attributed to Disraeli)
*"No food is better than our food."
*"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."
Historical word usage
In reference to his Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth,
Thomas Jeffersonwrote a letter to John Adamsstating:
We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphibologisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. ( [http://www.lib.hstc.edu.cn/dzsk/english/LETTERS/letters16.html] )
Outside formal logic
Apart from its use as a technical term in logic, "
equivocation" can also mean the use of language that is ambiguous, i.e. equally susceptible of being understood in two different ways. There is usually a strong connotation that the ambiguity is being used with intentionto deceive.
This type of equivocation was famously mocked in the porter's speech in
Shakespeare's " Macbeth", in which the porter directly alludes to the practice of deceiving under oath by means of equivocation.
Faith, here's an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. ("Macbeth", Act 2, Scene 3)
See, for example
Robert Southwelland Henry Garnet, author of "A Treatise of Equivocation" (published secretly c. 1595) — to whom, it is supposed, Shakespeare was specifically referring.Fact|date=January 2008 Shakespeare made the reference to priests because the religious use of equivocation was well-known in those periods of early modern England (eg under James VI/I) when it was a capital offence for a Roman Catholic priest to enter England.
A Jesuit priest would equivocate in order to protect himself from the secular authorities without (in his eyes) committing the sin of lying. For example, he could use the ambiguity of the word "a" (meaning "any" or "one") to say "I swear I am not a priest", because he could have a particular priest in mind who he was not. That is, in his mind, he was saying "I swear I am not one priest" (e.g. "I am not Father Brown".) This was theorized by casuists as the
doctrine of mental reservation.
According to Malloch (1966) Fact|date=November 2007 , this doctrine of permissible "equivocation" did not originate with the Jesuits.
Malloch cites a short treatise, " _la. in cap. Humanae aures", that had been written by
Martin Azpilcueta(also known as Doctor Navarrus), an Augustinianwho was serving as a consultant to the Apostolic Penitentiary. It was published in Rome in 1584. The first Jesuitinfluence upon this doctrine was not until 1609, "when Suarez rejected Azpilcueta's basic proof and supplied another" (Malloch, p.145; speaking of Francisco Suárez).
Kant's " Critique of Pure Reason"
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