Language Agenda in Makkah: When Repetition Prevents Ambiguity
Who says REPETITION is always bad? REPETITION is a powerful tool of effective communication in many ways. One of these ways is prevention of ambiguity. Let us consider the following scenarios to establish the power of REPETITION to prevent ambiguity.
● According to Islamic Literature, The Quran is partly revealed in Makkah, and IT contains the word of Allah.
● Yesterday I saw a bulb in Prophet's Mosque, and IT was attractive.
● A pilgrim has recited the Holy Quran in Ka'bah Mosque, WHICH is beautiful.
In all the examples above, the use of pronouns is ambiguously faulty. The pronouns in question are "IT" (non-personal) and "WHICH" (relative adjectival). It is a principle in grammar that every pronoun used in every sentence must have a clear antecedent or referent. An antecedent or a referent of a pronoun is the noun that the pronoun refers to or stands for. The basis of this principle is to avoid ambiguity and miscommunication.
Contrarily, all the pronouns used in the illustrative sentences have the burden of referring to more than one nouns. Let us restate the sentences with appropriate questions:
● According to Islamic Literature, the Quran is partly revealed in Makkah, and IT contains the word of Allah. (What contains the word of Allah? The Quran or Makkah?)
● Yesterday I saw a bulb in Prophet's Mosque, and IT was attractive. (What was attractive? The bulb or the Prophet's Mosque?)
● A pilgrim has recited the Holy Quran in Ka'bah Mosque, WHICH is beautiful. (What is beautiful? The Holy Quran or the Ka'bah Mosque?)
There are many ways we can cure the ambiguity in the sentences. But to maximize our understanding and simplify our task, we humbly use the technique of REPETITION. Below are our suggestions:
● According to Islamic Literature, the QURAN is partly revealed in Makkah, and the QURAN contains the word of Allah.
● Yesterday I saw a BULB in Prophet's Mosque, and the BULB was attractive.
● A pilgrim has recited the Holy Quran in Ka'bah MOSQUE, and the MOSQUE is beautiful.
In the light of this discourse, it might be clear that REPETITION is a stylistic tool that can be used to avoid ambiguity and other structural defects in usage. Dear reader, this is just a little usage secret about REPETITION. We will, at the appropriate time, explore others such as ANAPHORA, ANTITHESIS, and ASYNDETON, which are all forms of PARALLELISM.
Allah is the Best Grammarian.
By Dr. Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo
Lecturer, University of Applied Management, Germany - Ghana Campus, McCarthy Hill, Accra.
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.