Scope Ambiguity


Scope Ambiguity

Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns

A scope ambiguity is a sentence in which it is unclear and, therefore, open to interpretation, how much a verb or adverb or adjective refers to; what is the scope of its reference.

It is very often a sentence with an “and” connecting two objects, where the first object has an adjective and the second one does not.

modifier object 1 and object 2

“Look at the nice men and women.”

Does the adjective “nice” refer to the men and the women or just the men? Maybe those particular women are less than nice.

She was quickly showering and dressing.

Was she showering quickly and dressing quickly, or was she taking her time dressing?

They were captivated by the brilliant lecture and illustrations.

Robert found the meal perfectly seasoned and cooked.

When doing hypnosis carefully speak and listen to your clients.

In the sentence “I wonder how soon you’ll discover that you are sitting, listening to the sound of my voice, relaxing in the chair and drifting deeply into a trance?” the verb “discover” could refer to the whole sentence or just what comes before the “and.” (If it refers to the whole sentence then everything before the “and” is presupposed.)

And, if a person claims, “I am a Certified Master-Practitioner and Trainer,” be wary. They could mean they are certified as just one or both. And by the way, I am a certified Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP.



About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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