Ambiguity and Nominal Group Multiple Post modification in the Written English of Some Selected Nigerian Polytechnics

  • B Okanlawon
  • S Oluga


Semantic clarity and completeness of idea are two fundamental characteristics of virtually all forms of continuous writing especially essays, letters and reports. However, multiple post-modification of nominal groups often used to achieve clarity and brevity sometimes subjects ideas to ambiguity thereby making them to be susceptible to double or multiple semantic interpretations. This paper presents the outcome of a linguistic study of the continuous writing - essays, letters and reports in the scripts of eighty [80] students of The Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Nigeria offering English courses as compulsory minors. The paper identifies multiple post modification in the usage of the English nominal groups and their tendency to lead to ambiguity. A syntacticsemantic analysis of the ambiguous expressions resulting from multiple post modification is presented detailing the sources of ambiguities that arise. Finally, possible disambiguation methods are suggested especially for English as a second language writers and readers.

African Research Review Vol. 2 (1) 2008: pp. 124-151