Mother Tongue Interference In English News Cast (A Case Of A Kwara Television News)

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Mother Tongue Interference In English News Cast (A Case Of A Kwara Television News)


Language and man are inseparable and since the languages of the world come in contact, there is bound to be a problem like mother tongue interference which is a sociolinguistic phenomenon. This work takes for granted that grammatical competence is totally different from phonological competence and it has worked on this premise using phonological conventions in analysing the sampled data. The findings proved that interference at the phonological level is a major problem confronting our media houses in Nigeria with respect to spoken English. Suggestions have been proffered to effect the envisaged repair in the aspects identified.

Table Of Contents

  • Title page
  • Certification page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content

Chapter One

  • 1.0 Introduction
  • 1.1 The Research Problem
  • 1.1.1 The Research Question
  • 1.2 Research Purpose
  • 1.3 Scope of the Study
  • 1.4 Justification
  • 1.5 Methodology
  • 1.6 Data Description
  • 1.7 Definition of some Terms

Chapter Two

  • 2.0 Introduction
  • 2.1 Bilingualism/Multilingualism
  • 2.2 The Status of English in Nigeria
  • 2.3 Language Acquisition
  • 2.3.1 Second Language Acquisition
  • 2.4 Mother Tongue Interference
  • 2.4.2 Phonological Interference
  • 2.5 The Position of the Media in our Society

Chapter Three

  • 3.0 Introduction
  • 3.1 Under-differentiation
  • 3.2 Substitution
  • 3.3 Hypercorrection
  • 3.4 Epenthesis

Chapter Four

  • 4.1 Summary
  • 4.2 Conclusion
  • 4.3 Recommendations
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

If the question “what is language?” is asked, it has many senses and can be variously defined. It can be language of a particular field like science, humanity just to mention few. It can also be the animal language, sign language and many other types of languages.

Human language especially spoken dominates them all. Human language is natural. According to Adebayo (1995), “Language (Human Language) is one of the chief means by which a person learns to organise his experiences and thoughts”

In Adebayo’s words above, human language is one out of many means by which a person’s experiences and thoughts can be organised. This supports the many senses that language has. And also, without language, (spoken) thoughts will never be born and experiences of life will be wasted because no one will be able to learn from them. Communication is the major bridge that links the whole world. Communication is a crucial factor in the society at large and there is pieces evidence that prove this. The global village and the internet prove this among others.

Language whether written, spoken, sign or through any means is a tool for communication and English language, out of many languages of the world has emerged the most used language all over the world. The global village use this language (English) and it stands to be the language of the net.

English language accords respect and pride to its speakers but some have been left with the effective use of this language especially in the countries where the language (English) is not the mother tongue or the first language one comes in contact with, for instance in countries like Nigeria, Ghana and many others.

The language teachers, the broadcasters and some few others have been left with the duty of speaking the correct version of English language in Nigeria. And if this proof is true, these categories of people should speak error free English. However, it is unfortunate that some of our broadcasters still goof on air and this distorts communication. In the light of the above, this research is out to work on the use of language in English newscast under the title “Mother Tongue Interference in English Newscast: a Case of a Recorded Kwara Television News”

1.1 The Research Problem

This work knows that some issues that have become problems in our media houses have been handled by some scholars. For instance, Medubi (2007) and Okoye (2007). Both of them dwelt more on the problems confronting the press in Nigeria but not directly as this work will handle it. No one has really worked on how Mother Tongue Interference distorts communication in our media houses in Nigeria. This work will look into this problem and will try to proffer solutions.

1.1.1 Research Question

In handling the research problem above, this research will focus its attention on this question: How much does Mother Tongue Interference distorts communications in our media houses in Nigeria?

1.2 Research Purpose

The purpose of this research is to achieve some set goals.

Firstly, this research is to further enlighten the media on the importance of Standard English.

Secondly, this research is to also help the second language teachers. Since they are the foundation layers of all learners and when the foundation of a leaner is solid, anything built on it will stand erect.

Lastly, this research will be useful for the media and the second speakers of the English language on how to produce sounds of English that will be free from Mother Tongue Interference.

1.3 Scope of the Study

This work will focus on “Mother Tongue Interference in English Newscast”. Different authors have dealt with his topic from different perspectives.

Hoffmann (1991) identified four major types of mother tongue interference in English.

  1. Interference at the phonological level
  2. Interference at the grammatical level
  3. Interference at the lexical level
  4. Interference in spelling.

Alabi (2007) also identified three types of mother tongue interference in English which are: phonological interference, lexical interference and grammatical interference.

This research will concentrate on the phonological level of mother tongue interference because it deals mainly with speech (Day to day conversation).

1.4 Justification

This research topic “Mother Tongue Interference in English Newscast” is important because the problem is obvious in almost all the media houses in Nigeria.

Some authors have outlined the problems confronting our media houses in Nigeria but few have given us solutions. An author like Okoye (2007) outlined the problem of the press in Nigeria but did not give solutions to such problems.

This research is set to look into the problems and proffer solutions to them with top priority given to the phonological aspect.

1.5 Methodology

This research is to analyse the Kwara Television main News. This television station has two sections of news. Basically, the news at five O’clock and the news at half past six in the evening.

This research will analyse one of the main news which is usually broadcast by two people unlike the news at five which is shorter and taken by only one person.

More people also listen to the main news compared to the one at 5pm perhaps because it is fuller or later than the first or both.

Some of the workers in the newsroom will be interviewed to know the philosophy, ideology and the brief history of the television station.

The data will be analysed using phonological rules because this is the most pervasive type of interference according Romaine (1989, p.52).

In the process, if questionnaire will be useful, it will also be composed and given to some selected people in the society to know their reactions to the media house and oral interviews can also be conducted.

These are some of the methods that have been chosen for the success of this work.

1.6 Data Description

Kwara Television Authority UHF 35 (Socially responsible) was established in 1991 under the able leadership of Mall. Ishaq Maddibo Kawu. The establishment was promulgated into a decree in (1997) with six departments.

The departments are Administration, Accounts, Marketing, News, Programmes and Engineering.

After the tenure of Mall. Maddibo, eight directors have managed the Television station and Barrister Mohammed Abdul Raheem who is the current General Manager was appointed on 16th June, 2010. And he is the General Manager till date.

This station covers up to five states which are Kwara, parts of Oyo-state, Kogi, Ekiti and Osun states.

This television station has the mind of becoming the best in all things especially in informing people and updating them in all useful and educating matters.

Most people complained of the time of the main news which is (6:30pm) half past six. Many said they will still be at work or not at home at the time of the news and few who listen to KWTV news commend that the news is fuller and it covers more of the local events which some other stations usually neglect.

1.7 Definition of Some Terms

Mother Tongue / First language (L1).

Mother tongue also called the first language (L1) is the first language a child comes in contact with in his/her environment. Mother tongue is slightly different from the first language. Mother tongue is the language of the parents especially the father while the first language is the language of the environment.

The child’s mother tongue can be his/her first language and it may not also be. In the case where a Yoruba child grows up in ‘Okene’ in Kogi-state where the language in such environment is “Ebira” the Yoruba child can or will conveniently speak, “Ebira” because of his/her environment.

1.7.1 Second Language (Target Language)

A second language (L2) is that which exists side by side with the indigenous language(s) in a bilingual or multilingual situation. It is usually an official language and as such enjoys a high status within the nation.

A second or the target language can be the fourth or the third language to be acquired but as long as someone has a language before learning another, it will be referred to as the second language or the target language

1.7.2 News

Danuta (1998, p. 4) says:

News is a late Middle English Word that means “tidings” New information of recent events. Even if we accept this definition as a useful description of what Newspaper delivers… A more useful definition might be information about recent events that are of interest to a sufficiently large group, or that may affect the lives of a sufficiently large group.

1.7.3 Phonology

Akmajian (2001, p.109) etal says “phonology is the subfield of linguistics that studies the structure and systematic patterning of sound of human language”.

In his words, phonology is used in two ways. The first one describes the sounds of a language and the rules governing the use of those sounds. While the second refers to that part of the general theory of human language that is concerned with the universal properties of natural language sound systems.


Since language and man are not the same and they cannot be separated, problems will always arise from the two angles. Solutions must also be provided to such problems in order to have effective communication in the society.

This chapter has introduced us to the work that will be done and the next chapter, chapter two will review some works of literature by some renowned scholars in the field of language and this will establish the place of this work by linking it to some works that have been read.

Chapter Four

4.1 Summary

The first chapter of this work introduced us to the entire work with the topic “Mother Tongue Interference in 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.

The last chapter, chapter four, includes the summary, the conclusion and the recommendations to the problems identified in chapter three.

4.2 Conclusion

Based on the work that has been done, here are the conclusions reached:

Mother Tongue interference 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.

4.3 Recommendations

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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