In today’s post, I would like to take your attention to the principle of diversity of meaning in the Dusun language or specifically termed as language ambiguity within the language itself.
According to Cecilia Quiroga-Clare, something is ambiguous when it can be understood in two or more possible senses or ways. If the ambiguity is in a single word it is called lexical ambiguity. In a sentence or clause, structural ambiguity.
Examples of lexical ambiguity are everywhere. In fact, almost any word has more than one meaning. “Note” = “A musical tone” or “A short written record.” “Lie” = “Statement that you know it is not true” or “present tense of lay: to be or put yourself in a flat position.”
Dusun Lexical Ambiguity
1. Kara (monkey)
- Mintundok po ih kara hilod tuntuh timadang. (The monkey is jumping on top of the timadang tree)
- Pointimpak ilo kara id tansar mingkid-kingkid do luong. (The “monkey” is sitting on the fence munching maize). The noun kara here is to refer to an individual (usually a naughty boy).
2. Nipon (teeth)
- Kasadu, karatu om kotipu nipon dau. (He slipped, fell and broke his teeth)
- Notipu nipon diti ragus ku. (The chisel of my plough is broken)
Ambiguity tends to increase with frequency of usage. Some examples of structural ambiguity: “John enjoys painting his models nude.” Who is nude? “Visiting relatives can be so boring.” Who is doing the visiting? It is either John who is nude while painting or the models that he is painting are in the nude. In the second sentence, it could be that the writer is visiting relatives or he/she is being visited by relatives
Dusun Structural Ambiguity
- Yadaai di Korimput sawo dau moi pogiboboros dit komolohingan. (Korimput left his wife to talk to the elders)
- There could be two possible meanings of this sentence, either Korimput left his wife to talk to the elders (his wife is the agent of the talking)
- or He left his wife and talked to the elders himself (Korimput is the agent)
My next post would be on the discussion of the Syntactic and Paradigmatic Relations of the Dusun Language.
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