Monday, February 15, 2010

Ambiguity is the Pits

You pick up a jar of olives off of the shelf at the store and it says "pitted." Would you assume that "pitted" is an adjective describing the olives, that is, that the olives have pits in them, or would you interpret it as the simple past tense of the verb "to pit," that is, that the olives have had the pits removed? Both seem reasonable to me, but which one would you take it to mean at first glance?