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Consider the phrase

A transformation rule is a matrix, where certain elements can be accessed by a common name

"Common" can be interpreted in two different, both semantically correct ways

  1. Common in the sense that the name is frequent.

    Emily is a common name according to http://www.studentsoftheworld.info/penpals/stats.php3?Pays=GBR

  2. It can also mean that more than one object shares the same characteristics

    12 and 8 has 4 as a common denominator

How shall I distinguish case (1) from case (2). Is there a way to reformulate the phrase to unambiguously make it like in case (2).

1 Answer 1

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The preposition to will come to your aid.

A transformation rule is a matrix, where certain elements can be accessed by a name common to (the things you have in mind)

From Oxford (sense 2):

Shared by, coming from, or done by two or more people, groups, or things:

the two republics' common border

problems common to both communities

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  • That does disambiguate the adjective, provided the writer intended it to be read that way, which they probly did. Though it doesn't distinguish the two cases when they aren't disambiguated. Commented May 2, 2015 at 14:38
  • @JohnLawler: You're quite right, Sir. I only answered the 2nd part Is there a way to reformulate the phrase to unambiguously make it like in case (2) Hoping someone will answer the first part. Maybe you could help with that.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 2, 2015 at 14:41

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