The Issue of Ambiguity in the Igbo Language

  • Udemmadu Thecla-Obiora


Igbo language like every other language is characterized with ambiguous words. Ambiguity is situation where different interpretations can be given to an utterance. This does not concern only words, some phrases, and even  sentences have multiplicity of meanings. Owing to the fact that certain  expressions can be interpreted in various ways, the major role of language is frustrated. In other words, ambiguity obstructs language from performing its communicative function because message sent are most case misunderstood and misinterpreted. In affirmation, Bussmann (1996:19) states, “In everyday communication, ambiguity is a rather marginal problem, as context,  intonation, situation etc. usually sift out the adequate reading”. This problem of multiple interpretations attached to an utterance prompted the researcher to delve into this area of study in order to investigate the causes and then, proffer solution to the existing situation. The data for the study was gathered through simple observation of the native speakers. The methodology for data analysis was descriptive method. The findings reveal the ambiguities in the Igbo language arise from homonyms, homophones, homographs and from anaphoric  pronouns, dialectal differences, among other things. For solution, the researcher recommended that utterances should be interpreted based on the context of the discourse; that homographs should be tone-marked, and that inherent complements should accompany those verbs that need them. This academic exercise would be of immense benefit to   grammarians, lexicographers and Igbo scholars.



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eISSN: 2227-5460
print ISSN: 2225-8604