Analysis of the Problems of English Pronunciation Among Yoruba Speakers, of English
AIM OF THE STUDY
Our aims of undertaking this project include but not limited to the following:
- To practically carry out a careful test in order to establish which of the factor(s) is/are responsible for the wrong pronunciation of sounds.
- To conscientizing our readers that some of the already existing factors might be proved wrong based on the practical analysis that will be carried out from the respondents’ response.
- To aid a further study on the teaching of the phonological segment and supra-segmentals to student at all levels of learning in Nigeria
In this research, the Received Pronunciation (RP) will be used as the norm or the standard pronunciation model for the explanation of the deviation noticed in the variants of the sound segments. This is chosen due to its prestigious position as a dialect that is taught in the public school and its relevance to our field. Therefore, the study will serve as a check on the performance of the English sounds.
In this chapter, related works in the literature as this research work is concerned will be reviewed. This will serve as bases for the whole study i.e. some aspects to be reviewed here will be used in analysing our data in chapter three.
Due to the fact that sociolinguistics is a wide field, mother tongue interference and some other related sociolinguistic aspects (including language acquisition, bilingualism and some others) have been selected for the review.
Bilingualism and multilingualism are features of sociolinguistics.
According to Coates (1993, p. 4)
Sociolinguistics has been defined as the study of language in its social context. The study of language in its social context means crucially the study of linguistic variation.
Coates (1993) also identified two types of variations which are: stylistics variation and social variation.
Mackey (1968: 554) in Romaine (1989) opines:
The study of bilingualism could therefore be said to fall within the field of sociolinguistics in so far as the later is a discipline which is concerned with the ways in which language is used in the society.
Grosjean (1982) estimated that about half the world’s population is bilingual and that bilingualism is present in practically every country of the world.It is very rare to see a country with just a language, even a language has varieties. McGregor (2009, p. 168) opines:
Many speech communities around the world are constituted of individuals who speak two or more shared languages. I use the term bilingualism to refer to such situations allowing that more than two languages may be involved: sometimes the term multilingualism is used instead as the cover term.
From all the scholars that been quoted above, it is deducible that bilingualism is a situation whereby more than a language is present in a society and multilingualism in its case is referred to as a situation whereby more than two languages are used side by side in a geographical environment.
The Status of English in Nigeria
Nigeria is a multilingual state with (521) five hundred and twenty one indigenous languages. (Nine of these indigenous languages are dead while we have two languages (French and English) which have no native speakers. However, we have (510) five hundred and ten living languages apart from the dead and the ones whose orthography have not been designed as well as French and English) (Ethnologue; world languages; 2009). With English language co-existing with these languages in a number of situations, in other words, English language (a former colonial language) is being used to transact in the Nigeria society alongside the indigenous languages.
In the words of Alabi (2007),
It is now an established fact that English, which initially came to the Nigerian environment as a foreign language was later shaped and transformed by subsequent developments into a second language with an official status.
English language serves different functions in Nigeria among which are:
(a) It is the language of the media
(b) It is a subject/course in schools
(c) It is a tool for education
(d) It is the language of the politics
(e) English language is the lingua franca.
This shows that without the knowledge of this language, it is impossible to attain an appreciable social height in the country. English language also ascribes prestige to its speakers.
Many who speak this language (English) in Nigeria speak only to communicate. There are people who have been left with the duty of speaking the standard version of the language.Some will say since English is not their mother tongue, they can speak the language anyhow as long as they are understood.
In the previous chapters of this work, we have been introduced generally to the work and some literatures have been reviewed. In this chapter, the data will be analysed using the consequences of phonological interference. The six major interference phenomena discussed in chapter two which are: Under-differentiation, Hypercorrection, Over-differentiation, Re-interpretation, Substitution and Epenthesis, will be used in analysing our data.
Since interference according to Grosjean (1982), “is the involuntary influence of one language on the others”, we will see in the analysis of the data how Yoruba language influences the English language.
It has been argued by some language scholars that interference is a proof of errors in the target language because it is involuntary and a deviation from the norms of the target language. This work will agree that interference is a proof of the presence of errors in the target language.
In the words of Alabi (2007), “Error is simply a confusion of the rules in the target language.” This definition is important to us at this stage of our analysis.
The data (Kwara Television News at 6:30pm) have been grouped into fifteen sections according to all the sub-sections and the turns taken by each broadcaster. Each of these sections has different reflections of phonological interference and all of these will be grouped under the six major ways that have been mentioned.
The first chapter of this work introduced us to the entire work with the topic “Mother Tongue Interference in pronunciation of English Newscast with a case study of Kwara Television news”. In this chapter, the purpose of the work was given; the justification and the scope were considered. Also, the methods that were employed for the success of the work were highlighted and some key terms in our broad topic defined.
We have focused on the review of relevant works in interference, language acquisition, bilingualism/multilingualism, phonological interference in chapter two. This was done to relate this work to the existing literature in the language field.
The chapter three of this work has focused on the analysis of our data. Four phonological phenomena which are: Under-differentiation, Substitution, Hypercorrection and Epenthesis; have been used because the errors in the work fell under these four aspects.
Based on the work that has been done, here are the conclusions reached:
Mother Tongue interference pronunciation is evident in the broadcast of the news on our various channels and especially on our selected Kwara Television. Evidence of this abound in how some words were pronounced wrongly. There were cas esof substitution of sounds. For instance, pronouncing /tʃ/ as/ ʃ/, /v/ as /f/, the over-emphasis of other salient consonants.
Another conclusion reached based on the research that has been carried out is that the presence of Mother Tongue Interference in utterances sometimes leads to mis-interpretation.For instance, “Hall of the main building was gutted by fire” instead of All of the main building was gutted by fire. The statement above was taken from one of the sentences that were read on air and lead to erroneous interpretation.
The speaker inserted /h/ thereby pronouncing /hɔl/ for /ɔ:l/ making it sound like only the hall was gutted by fire instead of the real situation which claimed all the main building.
No broadcast media transmits without a license. In the same vein, the first recommendation towards getting out of the problems identified is to ensure that only those who studied English language in the universities cast the English news on any channel. It is almost certain that such person will have attained a level of proficiency that mediocre cannot boast of. Until the role of English newscast stops being an all-comers affair, delivery will keep suffering from mother tongue interference.
Another recommendation is the one that goes back to the acquisition of the language (English language) and the teaching of the language in schools especially in our universities in Nigeria.Most of our language teachers even at the tertiary level are learners themselves. So this work will recommend the English language immersion programme for both the teachers and the students of the English department; an overseas trip to an English speaking country where they will be exposed to the native speakers completely. This is usually the case with French under-graduates who for a matter of course must have some months of practical training as part of their curriculum. The upcoming newscasters must then be required to present evidence of all these in addition to their paper qualification before becoming newscasters.
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