The Milton Model

Milton Model Ambiguities

Ambiguities are words or phrases that have more than one meaning. This distracts the conscious mind because it then tries to figure out which meaning is appropriate. There are four types, phonological, punctuation, syntactic and scope


These are words that sound alike.

  • Write and right
  • Knows and nose
  • Hear and here
  • Red and read
  • Weight and wait
  • A part and apart
  • Flower and flour
  • Piece and peace


This is where two sentences share the same overlapping word.

  • I just bought a new watch what I am doing.
  • I love going to the sea what pictures you get when I say the word relax.
  • Notice what your hand me the glass.
  • Does this tie you in a knot that it matters


Syntax is the rules of language. We understand a sentence by its syntax. The man bit the dog is different from the dog bit the man. There is usually only one way to understand a sentence.

Sentences like “they were milking cows” however are ambiguous. You don’t know whether the person is referring to milking a cow or the type of cow.

  • They are visiting relatives – have they gone to visit relatives or are they relatives who are visiting?
  • Man eating fish – who is eating who?

Ambiguous Scope

Here it is unclear how much of the sentence an adjective, verb or adverb refers to

  • Speaking to you as a child – am I speaking as if I were a child, or as though you were a child?
  • Why don’t you come over when you have nothing on? hehe
  • He drew a picture of himself in the nude
  • The older men and women came to the party – is it older men and older women, or just older men?

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