Analysis Of The Use Of Sentence Stress Among Selected Undergraduate Students

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Analysis Of The Use Of Sentence Stress Among Selected Undergraduate Students

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the study

Constructively, a sentence is an anthology of words that convey meaning and meaning and are formed according to the common sense of grammar. Short and unambiguous sentences are mostly considered and more effective for long and complex sentences. Apparently, sentence is a linguistic unit of one or more words that communicate an autonomous articulation, a question, a request, a summons, a cry, etc., and which usually has a subject and a predicate. However, a sentence typically begins with a capital letter and ends with an appropriate punctuation; in speech, it displays decipherable, unrestrained intonation patterns and is again and again marked by the preceding and following pauses. In general, the statements and questions about the irresistible preponderance of sentences force a subject and a verb, formatted autonomously, followed by what is called an independent clause: for example, he took the phone is a sentence . After hitting the phone, it’s not a sentence; as a replacement, it is a dependent clause. Even if he has a subject and a verb, he must be connected to something to complete the statement: after picking up the phone, he answered a call; or He answered a call after picking up the phone (Amayo, 2013).

It is important to note that the sentences provide us with the structure necessary for an understandable written sentence. However, good writing skills are intrinsically vital to academic and professional success. The ability to write unequivocally and competently can transform complex and challenging writing into a more creative, exciting and fulfilling writing experience. In a more lucid sense, phrase learning is one of the most important ways to improve your English writing skills. On the other hand, writing is constructed by placing the sentences one after the other, in a coherent way. If a single sentence is read aloud, it must be explainable and devoting time to the mechanics of sentence structure can make a huge difference in your writing (Kachru, 2014). ). Typically, sentences are comprised of clauses: gatherings of words that express a solitary thought.

Given to that, there are two types of clauses:

  • Independent clauses
  • Dependent clauses.

Actually, independent clauses can situate unaccompanied as complete sentences whereas dependent clause needs an independent clause to complete its meaning by so doing different types of sentences are made up of different combinations of these two types of clauses.

Simple sentencesconsist of just one independent clause; it needs only one punctuation mark at the end (a full stop, exclamation or question mark).

Compound sentencesare made by fusion simple sentences. Meaning that sentences joined which are intimately allied in content to make the writing more fluid.

Complex sentencesare made once there is combination of an independent clause with a dependent clause whereby the dependent clause in the following example is in italics.

However, sentence stress come to play if one need to emphasize a specific fact or point in a text, there are more than a few ways to focus the reader’s or listener’s attention on it.

Imperatively, arrangement of words: by placing an introductory word at the commencement of a sentence, for that reason, the writer makes the reader pay attention to that word; the reader is then alert for the rest of the sentence. Undoubtedly, the English language has a towering frequency of homographic vocabulary and however, this linguistic observable fact habitually results in phonological and lexical ambiguities as well as delays in lexical and pronunciation decisions by L2 readers, more than ever those that are not capable of exploring contextual clues in pronouncing the words and ‘Improper’ or ‘incorrect’ pronunciation of some English words, primarily the homographic ones, during reading or speech making has often come with its attendant challenges and complexities for speakers of English globally. Notably, earlier researchers who have worked on this observable fact have based their studies on inter-lingual factors associated with some sociolinguistic chemistry of languages in contact and this contact circumstances has given birth to many world Englishes ( Kachru 2014, Crystal 2015 and Schneider 2003). But further than these inter-lingual circumstances, there are some intricacies inbuilt in English which pose pronunciation challenges to speakers of the language generally and second language (L2) users in particular whereby Bryson (2015) and Soneye (2007) have identified the impact of spelling on the pronunciation of speakers of English and as well, Amayo (2013) have identified the supra-segmental as the ‘unlearn-able’ aspect of English in an L2 context. Nevertheless away from these problems of English orthography and supra-segmental features is that one posed by homographic words to speakers of English in general and to the L2 speakers in particular and the reasons for this are numerous in that English homographic words are words having same spellings but with double or different pronunciations. However, this duality of elocution over and over again results in what Frost, Feldman and Katz (2012) call lexical vagueness. For example, ‘read’ (present tense) is pronounced as /rí: d/ while the past tense form of the same word is pronounced / red /.

Uncertainty is a phenomenon of human language including English and wherever it occurs, it demands more than one denotation in that it manifests at the phonological, lexical, syntactic and semantic levels of language in which at all of these levels, the outcome is communication failure or miscommunication and in other words, meaning is obscured and when this happens, defective communication comes about. It turns out to be exceptionally fundamental at this point to build up the relationship in the middle of orthography and phonology from one perspective and phonology and importance on the other. Frost et al (2012:569) express the perspective that vagueness can exist in the connection between the orthographic and phonological types of a word or between the phonological structure and its semantic representation. The purpose of union in the middle of phonology and semantics is that both help in representing meaning. A word is a phonological structure; its phonological representation is its lexical passage. Passing by this, each homographic word is given two unique passages with a specific end goal to separate it semantically. In any case, English does not have any type of visual marker (as tonal dialects do) to separate these homographic words and their different elocution suggestions. This frequently brings about semantic uncertainty. On the flip side, this study wants to investigate empirically the challenges posed by English homographic words to some students of ObafemiAwolowo University, Ile-Ife with a sight to ascertaining their impact on communication among Nigerian undergraduates.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Moreover, Simpson (2015) identifies some of the effects of semantic uncertainty on visual word acknowledgment. Since words in this class have twofold passages, the likelihood of experiencing one of them is more noteworthy than the shot of identifying single section. At the point when bivalent words are perused as two distinct elements, they prompt postponement choice in right articulation as per-users set aside time to match elocution with importance. Undesirably, this is not a sweeping standard, and there are bounties of English words which sound the same both as verbs and as nouns: ‘travel’ (He works in a Travel Agency and he hopes to travel by air to Abuja), ‘picture’ (He remembered taking the picture at a studio but could not picture precisely which studio.) are a few examples. These arrangements of words are both phonologically and semantically unambiguous. The setting of utilization as a rule decides the real open ramifications of such lexical things.

In an L2 context, when a speaker pronounces ‘REcord’ instead of ‘reCORD’, it prompts miscommunication which, in another speech, can be called clamor. In any correspondence experience, there is the requirement for input. The adequacy of the input is subject to the capacity of the listener/reader to appropriately decipher the real messages conceived by the speaker/writer at both the intra and interpersonal levels of communication. The sending of the message in verbal communication bases upon the correct elocution of words in the language in question. Once words are not correctly pronounced, particularly homographic words, they amount to noise. Noise, for this situation, is introduced as anything that meddles with, slows down, or reduces the clearness or correctness of communication. One effortlessly saw impact of error is vagueness with its specialist duality of implications in the psyche of the listeners/readers. Challenges postured by these English homographic to L2 learners and how they respond to such a word.

Homography as an etymological marvel is not absolutely odd to Nigerian speakers of English. This wonder exists in the different indigenous languages spoken by them. On the other hand, these languages are tonal in nature as a consequence of which words with comparative spellings are checked or declared diversely because of the diacritic signs put on them. These signs help in showing the phonological contextualization that takes into consideration right elicitation of the word as expected by the encoder in a composed content. Tone blemishes on a few words in Nigerian languages, like Yoruba for example, help in making the importance of words particular. This capacity of tone is alluded to as ‘semantic phonemicity’ (Atoye, 2014:48). For instance, the following Yoruba homographic words are made particular with the diverse tone blemishes on them: ‘Obe’ (knife) with the tone mark LM is made different from ‘Obe’ (soup) with the tone ML and this phonological contextualization admissible in Yoruba language is missing in English were L2 speakers of English with this type of backdrop are introduced to different types of homographs without any hint of phonological contextualization.

In view of the fact that English does not stain out stress placement on words in a usual text apart from in broad or narrow transcriptions, L2 learners are expected to depend on practical contextualization previous to written texts can be read and proper meanings decoded by them and this chore of practical contextualization demands higher level of language awareness on the part of L2 readers. Words that are phonologically unclear are not challenging to skilled readers but are so to preschooler and unskilled readers who translate a string into more than one conceivable phonological acknowledgment that maps into more than single word in their vocabulary.

1.3 Aims and objective of the problem

The general aim is to examine the use of sentence stress among some undergraduate students of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife,

Specifically the study sought to:

  1. Examine sentence stress between some undergraduate students
  2. Determine homographic words challenges to L2 learners
  3. Establish the alternative used by the students in avoiding homographic words
  4. Assess undergraduate student’s reading capability

1.4 Justification of the study

It has been scrupulously evaluated that normal speakers of a language know from 45,000 to 60,000 words. On the other hand, this shows that optimistically one must have kept these words someplace in the heads, known as mental lexicon. However, in non-specialized each day talk, one talk about “words” while never imagining this could be a problematic idea. It has been contended that the word could be characterized in four other courses: as far as sound structure (i.e. phonologically), regarding it’s inside honesty, as far as significance (i.e. semantically), or as far as sentence structure (i.e. grammatically). Notably, one might have thought that the vacant spaces in writing mirror pauses in the spoken language, and that conceivably one could define the word as a unit in speech surrounded by pauses. However, in circumspectly listening to naturally occurring speech one will apprehend that speakers do not make pauses before or after each word and conceivably one could say that words can be surrounded by potential pauses in speech.

Undoubtedly, this decisive factor works much better, although it runs into problems because speakers can and do make pauses not only between words but also between syllables, for example for emphasis. Although there is another way of how the sound structure can tell us something about the nature of the word as a linguistic unit in that one should think of stress and in countless languages (including English) the word is the unit that is fundamental for the occurrence and distribution of stress whereby spoken in isolation, every word can have only one main stress, as indicated by the acute accents (´) in the data presented in (3) below (note that one speak of linguistic ‘data’ when we refer to language examples to be analyzed).

(3) –carpenter, textbook, wáter analysis, féderal syllable, mótherunderstánd

Without doubt, the main stressed syllable is the syllable which is the most prominent one in a word.

Notably, prominence of a syllable is a role of intensity, pitch and length, with stressed syllables being pronounced louder, by means of elevated pitch, or with longer duration than the neighboring syllable(s) in which longer words repeatedly have superfluous, weaker stresses, known to be secondary stresses, which often ignore here for straightforwardness’s sake of which often times terms to be deliberate act of short cut.

1.5 Scope of the study:

The scope of this study is not expected to grasp in detail all that may have been needed to develop the topic of the study in view of its wide and its natural troubles associated with obtaining data because of time constrictions which will obstruct a useful detailed development of the research topic.

1.6 Methodology

Methodological methodology entails data collection whereby the subjects were made to read some semantically biased sentences containing some homographic lexical items and the subjects’ readings were recorded and analyzed. However, 24 (twenty four) undergraduate students of English language of the Obafemi Awolowo University were used as the subjects for this study of which six subjects made up of 3 students each from Yoruba and Igbo taking outs were drawn from 100 level to 400 level. The selection due to the fact that they fall within the accepted ranges of students’ admission guiding principle, distinct the Hausa counterparts those are not available in the department.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion, Results, Recommendations, and Suggestions for Further Studies

5.1 Introduction

This chapter provides a summary for the whole study in addition to the conclusion, and the finding of the study. Some recommendations will be made out of the findings. Finally suggestions for further studies will be provided .

5.2 Summary

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the problems that faces students in semantics particularly when they are using homophones and homographs in English language to achieve these aims the researcher pointed out the following hypothesis: Undergraduate students are not able to use and understand homographs in writing, also the second year undergraduate students are not able to use and understand homophones in writing, finally the teaching of homophones and homographs are not sufficiently covered by the teachers of English language. To collect data of this study the researcher used besides references the tool of questionnaire for the teachers and test for the students.

5.3 Results

The researcher after conducting the test for students and the questionnaire for the teachers, concluded the following results:

  1. Students are not able to use and understand homographs in context through the written text.
  2. The researcher observed that the students are not able to use homophones in the written text.
  3. The results proved that, teaching of homophones and homographs is not sufficiently covered by teachers of English language.

5.4 Conclusion

The researcher attended some lectures at college to see whether the suggested way of teaching semantics mentioned earlier in chapter one. The main purpose of this study is to find a solution to this problem. The researcher dealt with three hypotheses for the undergraduate students are not able to use and understand homographs, through thetest.

5.5 Recommendations

Based on findings of the study the researcher recommended the following recommendations:

  1. Students of early stages of learning should be encouraged to focus more on homophones and homographs in writing to solve the problems of misunderstanding them.
  2. Students should pay attention when they are studying semantics particularly homophones and homographs in English.
  3. Students should be made fully aware of using homophones and homographs and further remedial work should be given on semantics.
  4. Teachers should be qualified enough for teaching homophones and homographs in English.
  5. Teachers of English should study hard to differentiate between homophones and homographs.

5.6 Suggestion for Further Studies

  1. Investigation of homophones and homographs in students’ performance.
  2. Investigating difficulties of teaching Semantics particularly homophones and homographs English.
  3. Assessing the use of homophones and homographs in spoken text.

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