The Perceptual Disparity Between Verbal Ambiguity & Visual Ambiguity

The Perceptual Disparity Between
Verbal Ambiguity & Visual Ambiguity

Semantics and Surrealism

I’ve always found ambiguity to be an intriguing phenomenon, whether inadvertently, arbitrarily or contrived, and regardless of their derivations their pronounced contrasting or multiple interpretations are verbally and visually confounding.

Linguistics has a number of subfield; phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics, every subfield plays a major role in lexical and syntactic ambiguity. Sarcasm, irony, condescension and other persuasive forms of rhetoric in figurative devices emanate from the tone of a lexical or syntactic sentence, meaning the contrasting interpretations are not conducive to the word itself, but the versification, key, and intonation, which deals with rhythm, meter, and the rise and fall in tonality.

Lets focus primarily on the pervasiveness of ambiguity in semantics: homonym, homophone, homograph, heteronym, heterograph, polysemy, monosemy, capitonym, paronym, hyponym and meronym. Their contrasting meanings emanate from the overlapping of noun, adjectives and verbs etc—what’s interesting is the two mutually exclusive forms of verbal ambiguity in communication, the first arises from intonation and the second explores the multiple interpretation of the word itself.

Verbal ambiguity tends to evoke laughter because of the misdirection and exploitation of double-meaning; watch being a noun and verb simultaneously, the former or latter can be the setup and vice-versa to resolve the conflict, but it’s never actually resolved. Ironically it simply exploits the uncertainty, inexactness and double meanings of lexical or syntactic sentences. Cognitive interpretation of verbal ambiguity can be retrofitted and paralleled simultaneously, hence you encapsulate the overall concept of the watch being a noun and verb simultaneously, and ofcourse, syntax driving the delivery.

Visual ambiguity such as optical illusions, reversible images and the exploitation of graphical similarities doesn’t lend itself well to the simultaneous interpretations, unless the specific objective is humor oriented and predicates a pun-like nature, which is synonymous to the verbal ambiguous exploitation in linguistics. In this case we’re exploring the intrinsic nature of visual ambiguity where there’s a simultaneous relationship between disparate images. Visual ambiguous humor or puns may capitalize on the double interpretation of words defining or describing the rendered images itself, and not on the juxtaposition of mutually exclusive images.

Remember the prevalent ambiguous online image that displays two black faces parallel to each other, with an hour glass in the middle? You have to deviate from one to observe the other. Equivalent to the ambiguous nature of light, where massless packets of photons travel at a velocity of 186,000 miles per second, elementary particles exhibiting the properties of a wave-particle duality as it propagates. Both properties cannot be observed simultaneously, although both propagates concurrently. This correlates to visual ambiguity on an infinitesimal level, so on a fundamental level indecisiveness, uncertainty, and multiple interpretations pervade.

I specifically mentioned “surrealism” because it was a 20th century avant-garde art and literature movement that exploited the visual contradictory of ideas, the juxtaposition of incongruity, merging of the incompatible, taking concepts that are completely incompatible, placing them side-by-side and finding a single common denominator they share. Although their visual dichotomies are infused together to create artistic harmony, you see a peculiar aesthetic when ambiguity is infused in the juxtaposition of incongruity.

And of-course, you cannot mention surrealism and exclude the prominent eccentric Salvador Dali, the all encompassing renaissance of surrealism, juxtaposing the subconscious and the dream-state. Verbal Ambiguity and Visual Ambiguity share a common denominator, they’re contingent on indecisiveness, uncertainty, vagueness and two or more interpretations, However, there’s a disparity in how their ambiguity derives, verbal ambiguities are conducive to semantics and phonological-intonation; “double meaning of words,” and “tonality” in a literal or non-literal statement, and can be encapsulated as a whole.

Whereas visually ambiguity are conducive to the juxtaposition of incongruity, where there’s a simultaneously relationship or harmony between image disparities, and this creates a dichotomic perception because there’s no dominant or subordinated interpretations, they’re just relative with respect to what context you observe the image.

A Darker Shade of Gray

Here’s an original “Classical Composition” where i use ambiguous sounding chords, notes and progression that gives a dissonance non-harmonious sound. Meaning they sound unfinished, vague and indecisive, chords that sound as if they want to be resolved because of the unappealing nature, but the transitions between dissonance balances the musical equilibrium between tension and release. Also this compositional piece is done in the non-standard Guitar Tuning “EADGBE.” A tuning i created, “DCGCAE,” Gsus4/add6/add9/3rd. I called this song “A Darker Shade of Gray” because it encapsulates a dark sort of gloomy romantic feel. Enjoy!

Share your views and opinion, please leave a comment below Article Written By: Atelston Fitzgerald Holder 1st
Stage Name: Mr Pregnant

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Copyright 2014

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