Mother Tongue (Hausa) Interference On The Syntax Of Second Language (English) (A Case Study Of UG IV Students Of English Language)

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Mother Tongue (Hausa) Interference On The Syntax Of Second Language (English) (A Case Study Of UG IV Students Of English Language)


This research is aimed at identifying the interference of mother tongue (Hausa) on the syntactic level of second language (English) using the U.G IV English language students as case study of the research work with a view to finding out the interference Hausa syntax has on that of English and also suggest possible solutions that could address the problems. The data collected in this research is used to illustrate how various aspect of Hausa language can transfer on the syntax of Second Language (English).

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Language is generally used for the purpose of interaction among people in the society. It is also used to differentiate people by sex, age and social status within a particular society. Language serves as a tool for development in every society. It develops nations or societies socially and particularly for the purpose of interaction within and outside a particular society. Through choice of words and forms of speeches, language can be used to differentiate gender or age.

The languages that a person uses can be differentiate into L1 and L2, that is first and second languages. First language is also known as mother tongue meaning our language or the language a child first comes in contact with depending on the environment he/she is born and raised while second language is a language that is later learnt at adult stage.

1.2 Statement of the Problems

Every individual has a first language or a mother tongue. Hausa language is a largely spoken language in the Northern part of Nigeria. It is observed that most Hausa native speakers posses this problem of their second language (English) facing syntactic problem as a result of the interference or the influence of the mother tongue (Hausa) over the second language (English). This is why a native speaker of Hausa language is easily identified if he/she speaks English language because the interference will be observed once the speakers makes an utterance.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

Behind any research, there must be reason(s) why that particular research is carried out. It is in this regard that this research aims at investigating or identifying the various ways or forms through which Hausa language interferes on the syntactic level of second language. Because of the late arrival of Europeans to Northern Nigerian where Hausa is spoken, English is not as fully embraced by the Hausas as is the case with their Southern counterparts. English language seems to have some communication syllogisms, that is extension of sense and use of lexical items and local idioms. The syntactic interference of the Hausa language on English language is the focus of this research study. Therefore, this study aim at identifying the interference of Hausa syntax on the syntax of English.

1.4 Research Questions

These research questions are formulated in order to guide the researcher. The following are the questions that this research aims at answering:

  1. Does Hausa language have vowels that have the same distribution with standard English?
  2. Does English have the same realisation as in basic Hausa consonant system.
  3. Do the Hausa speakers/writers borrow from English the syntax?
  4. Has the ascendancy of English language in Nigeria created ‘linguistics imperialism on the Hausa Language.
  5. Do lexis and structure in Hausa language have different implication from those of English language?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research will be of great importance not only to the literature of Hausa language but also to those who are learning it in educational institutions as well as the entire Hausa speaking populace.

However the research does not aim at discrediting the Hausa syntactic forms but rather aims at pointing out the inherent features that characterise Hausa syntactic forms and compare them with that of English in order to find out their areas of contrast and its inherent defect.

1.6 Limitation and Delimitation of the Study

Firstly, this research is specifically concerned with the study of how mother tongue (Hausa) interferes on the syntax of second language (English) using the U.G IV English language students as case study of the research work with a view to finding out the interference Hausa syntax has on that of English and also suggest possible solutions that could address the problems. All the findings are based on the area of the study.

1.7 Objectives of the Study

The aims and objectives of any research work is to uncover proficiency on the necessary issues or aspect related to the study. This project also will be of great importance not only to those who are literates in Hausa language but also to those who are learning Hausa in institutions and to the speakers of Hausa in general.

The study is also designed to examine the syntactic interference of Hausa language on English language particularly to find out the difficulty of English language pronunciation from Hausa speakers. Also to determine the implication and influence of language usage.

Chapter Five

Summary and Conclusion

5.1 Introduction

This is the last chapter of the research work. The chapter contains the summary of findings of the research and the conclusion as well.

5.2 Summary of Finding

After the research the researcher was able to find out that there are so many ways by which Mother Tongue (Hausa) interferes on the syntactic level of Second Language (English) in the process of learning it, some of which are positive and others are negative transfers.

The structure of both the two languages are the same i.e to say they have same pattern in some grammatical constructions of sentences which include SVO, SV, SVC, just to mention but a few. Also, the research was able to find that the Hausa learner of English as a Second Language experiences difficulty because the Hausa the tenses also remain the same unlike English Language where different tenses have different syntactic structures. More so, in Hausa Language a pronoun can preceed a noun while the rule of syntax do not permit such in English Language, thereby causing negative transfer for a Hausa speaker learning English as his/her Second Language. There is also difference in the use of the punctuation mark comma (,) in English when listing items more than two i.e using comma in between each item and the conjunction ‘and’ follows before the last item is included but in Hausa the conjunction ‘and’ ‘da’ is used in between each item. It has also been observed that when English language uses zero morpheme for the plural formation, the Hausa native speaker usually make errors in his English construction because the use of zero morpheme for the plural formation in Hausa Language is very limited. The use of possessive verb differs from that of Hausa and English Language. The Hausa learner of English language use ‘‘shall’’ and ‘‘will’’ interchangeably or use one in place of the other because in his L1 (Hausa) both are the same.

5.3 Conclusion

The first chapter of this research work gives an introduction to this study including the research method, research questions, background of the study, limitations and delimitation just to mention but a few.

The second chapter review the literature and this is where the main aspect of this research work is discussed. An attempt has been made in this chapter to show that language acquisition is cantered on children. It has also been explained that the process of first language acquisition is natural and informal. The concept of second language learning with a particular reference to English language have also been discussed. The chapter also embodies the second language learning process which is artificial and formal (controlled by the teacher). The definition of interference is attempted and different types of transfer have also been discussed. All in this chapter, the mother tongue interference (Hausa on the syntax of the second language (English) has been treated.

The third chapter discussed the methodology used in collecting data. Sampling and sampling techniques, population of the study/research population are some of the study information discussed in this chapter.

In chapter four, the collected in presented and analysed and the data has also been used to illustrate how various aspect of Hausa language can transfer on the syntactic level of second language (English). Different data is presented to show both the similar and the differences i.e. the point of divergent between the two languages. It is through this that we find that there is both positive and negative transfer existing between the two languages.

5.4 Suggestions

There is a very strong relationship between man and language. We have different races around the globe with different language. One’s culture mostly determine his/her language and this is why language and culture are insaperatable, the two are interwoven. The relationship between man and language and between language and culture makes the languages of the world to have both differences and similarities as well. Therefore, when the learner are learning the language of other people (as a second language) they must encounter some problems one of which is interference. Our concern here is how to minimise or shun the problem of interference when learning a second language. Here are few suggestions which when applied might reduce such problems of interference.

The best way in which interference can be corrected is to apply the theory of contrastive analysis (C.A) where the different aspects of mother tongue or first language are to be compared with those of the second language. This will help the learners to understand their problems and find the ways of solving them. More so, the use of contrastive analysis helps the teachers to point out which is/are to be given more attention in the second language learning. There is need also of constant practice if what has been learnt by the learners. Lado (1978) and Corder (1974) emphasise the practicability of language learning. It is only through this practical means that the learner can easily understand the knowledge of the target language. Therefore, it is very vital for their teachers to make the inputs meaningful so that learners can learn easily and put what they have learnt into practice.

The teachers to the second language learners should try to use the findings of psychologist, linguists, and other researches to different researchers. This will help them to know more about the language and the model to be used for effective teaching without facing much difficulty in the process of teaching.

The researcher also suggest that the teachers should be critical of the textbooks and select those which are more appropriately clear for better language learning. Thus, it is significant for the teachers to look for the useful materials that the learners can understand easily.

The teachers should also bear in mind that before teaching any aspect of the second language, it is vital for them to look at its relationship with the first language. This will help them greatly to carefully plan their lessons and use appropriate teaching method. The second language learning teachers should bear in mind that the principles task in the second language learning is the mastery of the finite system by which linguistic creativity is achieved. Therefore, it is not our intention to make the learners remember so many words, so many phrases or so many sentence which they have been taught, but to make them construct new utterances in the target language. For this reason, it is very important to try any possible means that can prevent the learners from any negative language transfer.

The researcher would like the teachers to take note of the suggestion given above, so that they can use them to minimise the problem of language transfer and other learning difficulties in teaching the second language.

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