Riddles are word puzzles that can easily be solved by those who have developed a fair, to exceptional level of comprehending the language used. Most often, an exceptional understanding means having knowledge of word meanings including any form of ambiguity that a word possesses. Ambiguity after all, is that condition when a word or phrase is puzzling because of uncertain or multiple meanings.
Ability to discern certain ambiguous forms of the English language is often the key to solving riddles hard or, easy they maybe. It is a matter of acquiring fair knowledge about homonyms, usually in the form of homophones or homographs. In some cases, riddles make use of metaphors, allegories, or idiomatic expressions. That being the case, riddles are excellent tools for honing a learner’s language comprehension and composition skills.
Ambiguity Defined and Explained
A word or phrase is ambiguous if the meaning of the word in use is not completely definite. Sometimes more than one meaning is reflected by a sentence if a phrase or word is ambiguous. To some learners, it is an obstacle as it makes reading comprehension more difficult.
Some find value with ambiguity, as they can be used to express a thought poetically. Others use it as code to hide meanings and therefore make reading a more challenging exercise. Riddles are good examples of how language ambiguity is put into good use.
Ambiguity maybe lexical or structural.
Lexical Ambiguity pertains to a single word, usually a metaphor, a metonym, or a homonym, which may be further classified either as a homophone or homograph. The word “dear” is an example of a homophone, as the word may be used to express deep affection for someone or to state that an object is costly or expensive.
Structural Ambiguity may refer to a clause or phrase as in the case of idiomatic expressions or allegories. Structural ambiguity may not always be natural, as when the syntax or arrangement of words in a sentence does not occur in a rational or sensible manner.
Such aspects of the English language are interesting to some learners, but not so much for those who encounter difficulty in comprehending written compositions. As a way of homing reading comprehension, using riddles as exercises is a highly recommended approach.
Examples of Riddles Using Lexical Ambiguity
Having only one colour but not always the same size. Although stuck at the base, it easily flies
A companion in the sunshine, but stays home when it rains; not causing harm, whilst feeling no pain.
When is lactose intolerance hereditary?
Answer: When it occurs in the jeans (genes).