INCORRECT PUNCTUATION, AS A CAUSE OF AMBIGUITY AND MISUNDERSTANDING IN WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
Ambiguity is a linguistic phenomenon in which more than one meaning, or deep structure, may be represented by the same expression, or surface structure; the same word or similar sounding words for example can have multiple meaning. It arises from different sources; phonology, syntax and punctuation. In this task, ambiguity is the preoccupation of this task. It is a point where two sentence overlap with respect to their syntactic category.
Punctuation is one of the major aspects that contribute to meaning of any written discourse. This implies that correct the use of punctuation in written communication enhances meaning and fluency which facilitates comprehension and effective communication.
However, when punctuation marks are used incorrectly, it generally alters meaning and creates ambiguity in written discourse which leads to ineffective communication.
This research is taken to investigate how incorrect punctuation creates ambiguity and misunderstanding in written communication. This will be achieved by examining selected scripts of UG III students of Modern European Languages and Linguistics of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, thereby evaluating the causes of ambiguity in the essays with regards to the incorrect use of punctuation.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Punctuation is the use of punctuation marks within a written text to enhance its meaning or fluency or to indicate aspect of pronunciation. Punctuation is one of the most important aspects of written communications. In fact, it is the basic features of any written discourse that gives meaning to the written words. Hence, an error in punctuation can convey a completely different meaning as against the intended one, thereby, making communication incomprehensible and ambiguous.