William Empson on Ambiguity

“The intentional or unintentional expression of a word or idea that implies more than one meaning and usually leaves uncertainty in the reader. William Empson, in his Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), outlined and defined seven different kinds of verbal nuance. He maintained that language functioning with artistic complexity connotes as much and often more than it denotes.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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