Understanding Lexical Ambiguity in IELTS

Understanding Lexical Ambiguity in IELTS

In some IELTS test, the participants usually meet some problems regarding meaning of words. Some participants cannot understand the meaning of words because literally the meanings of words which they understand don’t match with the sentence. Is there problem in IELTS test? Of course not, in English there is one term related with that case and it is called as Lexical Ambiguity. Today this article will discuss about lexical ambiguity and how to understand it at IELTS test.So what is lexical ambiguity? Lexical ambiguity is ambiguity based on a single word. In many cases a single word in a language corresponds to more than one thought. In IELTS test this case usually occurs at reading test. However, we have to know the whole sentence before we interpret it. For your information Lexical ambiguity is similar with case part of speech which was written in the article part of speech last week. In part of speech a single word can be meant in different form. It can be noun, adjective, verb, or adverb.

Last week I have written an article about part of speech and I gave example about them. I gave example a word ‘books’. In A meaning ‘books’ is meant as a material to record and in B meaning ‘books’ is meant as an action to reserve. Essentially both of the case of part of speech and lexical ambiguity is similar. Both of them create multiple meanings. In short the case in part of speech, sometimes, can be called as lexical ambiguity. There are examples of lexical ambiguity:The word ‘run’ (to move fast vs. to direct or to manage) –in verb case
a.    They run in the road to chase a thief.
b.    Due to the problem of office, I must run the office for a while.

The word ‘bright’ (shinning vs. smart) –in adjective case
a.    The city lamps are very bright and beautiful when we see it on the hill.
b.    He must be very bright because he can finish that a difficult question.

Lexical ambiguity stems into two, homophony and polysemy. Homophony occurs when a single word has more than one meaning. For instance, the word ‘bank’, in A meaning is meant as financial institution and in B meaning is meant as the edge of river. On other hand, polysemy occurs when a single word or small group of words has two or more related meanings. Both of homophony and polysemy have same concept because they are born from lexical ambiguity. However, polysemy involves close relation between meaning and single word, while homophony involves different meaning. For example, the word ‘glare’, in A meaning is meant as unpleasant felling or angry, otherwise in B meaning is meant as shine with a bright unpleasant light. Those two meanings have close relation which is showing unpleasant thing.

Next, how we know the true meaning of word? We can know the meaning of word by recognizing the whole sentence. If we can understand the whole sentence, we can interpret the meaning of word accurately. So, in reading test the participant should understand the sentence first. If we don’t pay attention to the sentence without good interpretation, it will make an error in interpretation.

Lexical ambiguity is a problem in understanding English. Of course there is no problem that cannot be fixed. In TEST English School, we have special method to face reading test. We can make the reading test look easy for you because we are the master of its. So, don’t think any further. Let’s join us!