A Phonelogical Analysis Of English Fricatives As Used Among The Yoruba Speakers Of English Language

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

A Phonelogical Analysis Of English Fricatives As Used Among The Yoruba Speakers Of English Language


This research work is a cursory observation of how the English Fricatives are used among the Yoruba speakers of English Language.

At the phonemic level of interference, English Language for instance has the voiceless fricatives /θ/ which is absent in the Yoruba Language. For this sound, the Yoruba Speakers of English substitute the voiceless alveolar fricative /t/. Thus, the English word “theme” and “thought” are realized as /tim/ and /tot/ respectively.

This research work shall be looking at only the Yoruba people of the southern part, of the country, especially, the Yoruba people within the terrain of Oyo State.

In this research work, emphasis shall be laid on the wrong pronunciation of sounds, especially those sounds that are as a result of factors, that arc likely to be responsible for the wrong or right pronunciation of the fricative sounds.

Chapter One of this research work focused on the general introduction while Chapter Two is based on the Literature Review which concentrates on works of other Linguists. Chapter Three explains the methodology of the research work while Chapter Four critically looked into the analysis of the data collection and presentations, and also the major problems of the Nigerian Speakers of the English Language. Chapter Five summarized the research work and recommendation was made in helping to solve the problems associated with some lapses in the Received pronunciation of English fricatives.

Chapter One

General Introduction

1.0 Introduction

Experts in all fields hold on to one belief or the other. To sociolinguists, language can never be divorced from the society. Therefore society is of more importance to their study. To scientists, facts can never be ignored in the process of observation; this of course forms the basis of their theorizing. To historians, sourcing information by which ever means to establish historical facts must be strictly adhered to. So also a phonetician believes in the proper study of the properties of individual sounds that make up a language. An aspect of this forms the basis of this research work.

This research work aims at analyzing the English fricatives as used among the Yoruba speakers of English language.

· This research work is limited to only the Yoruba people, who dwell in the southern part of the country, Nigeria particularly within the terrain of Oyo state.

1.1 Background to the Study

The research work is analytical in nature, and this is due to the fact that data shall be closely examined, in order to arrive at the major determinants of the wrong or the right realization of the fricative sounds as used among our respondents. That is, each respondent data shall fully be analyzed and if there is need for comparing of data, it shall be exhaustively done.

1.2 Aim of the Study

The aim of research work is to carry out a task in order to establish which of the factor(s) is or are responsible for the wrong or right realization of the English fricative sounds;

This research work aims at enlightening the readers that some of the already existing factors might be proved wrong based on the practical analysis that will be carried out from the responses of the respondents.

For the purpose of this research, the Received Pronunciation (R.P) will be used as the standard pronunciation model for the explanation of the deviation noticed in the variants of the sound segments under the study. This is chosen due to its prestigious position as a dialect that is taught in the public schools and its relevance to our field. Eventually, the study will serve as a check on the performance of English sound segments.

Whatever discovery is made in this connection will aid a further study on the teaching of the phonological segments to students at all level of learning in Nigeria.

1.3 Scope of the Study

Every academic research work is carried out within a specific scope to make researchers have focus in their work. This research would look at English fricative used among the Yoruba speaker of English language; thus, the research would be focusing on the speaker who are literate and how the English fricative are being used. Literacy is the ability to read and write, thus, this research tends to look at that in secondary school and in the higher institution as the literate Yoruba speakers of English.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The significance of this research work is to appreciate the Yoruba speakers of English Language bearing in mind the fact that some English fricative sounds are not present in the Yoruba consonant chart.

Consequently, a good understanding of this research work requires a mental dissociation from the knowledge letters and a concentration on sounds as they are produced rather than how they are spelt. It has been observed over time that second language learners often allow their knowledge of letters to interfere with the learning of English sounds/fricatives. Example, at the phonemic level of interference, English Language for instance, has the voiceless fricatives/θ/ which is absent in the Yoruba language. For this sound the Yoruba speakers of English substitute the voiceless alveolar fricative /t/.

Thus, the English word think /θiηk/ is realized as /tink/. At the end of this research work, Yoruba learners should therefore concentrate on how sounds are pronounced rather than how they are spelt.

1.5 Statement of the Problem

Quite a number of scholars had made contributions regarding the factor responsible for the difficulties in the realization of some fricative sounds such as lv, z, θ, d, 3,/. This out rightly is the centre core of this research work.

The difficult sounds as listed above are sometime correctly articulated in words by some Yoruba users of the English fricatives, while others or a few use them wrongly. These therefore, form the tasks which this research work seeks to provide answer(s) to. In lieu of this, the research work shall seek various and the possible reason for these noticeable problems among second language speakers of English.

1.6 Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework for this research is phonology. Phonology is said to be the study of some sounds system of a particular language. It can equally be said to be the study of human sounds with due regard to their patterning and function in a particular language.

Phonology is a level or pattern of linguistic arrangement of significant sounds into a meaningful production of significant sound for their phonetics.

The basic unit of phonology is called phoneme which is defined as the sound system of a language that can keep utterance apart. There are some principal rules used to establish the phonemes of any Yoruba language.

They are:

  • Contrast through minimal pairs
  • Complementary Distribution
  • Phonetic similarity.

Finally, phonemes are realized and achieved differently. As a phonetician there is an account for different realizations.

1.7 Statement of Hypothesis

The following hypothetical statements shall be tested at the end of this research.

  • H1: Yoruba learners of English pronounce some sounds according to their understanding.
  • H2: Some Yoruba users of the English fricative do not recognize minimal pair /f, v/.
  • H3: Most voiced fricative sounds are usually difficult to articulate by Yoruba speakers of English.
  • H4: Voiceless fricatives are easily articulated by the Yoruba speaker of the English Language.
  • H5: Consonant cluster usually serves as barriers to most Yoruba speakers of the Fricatives.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

This research work has shed light on the introduction of English phonology, Phonetics and the phonetic level of interference as well as the phonological interference of Yoruba Language with the English Language. It has also focus on the phonological problems of the Yoruba learners of English Language. We have also been able to mention the consonantal segment of the Yoruba users of the English Language, while their use of fricatives have been closely considered in comparison with the sound system of the Received pronunciation.

Some hypotheses on the spoken English of Nigerians have been confirmed while some have been invalidated. A new finding has been made even though this is no doubt our respondents have been shaped by factors like education, level of exposure and some other linguistic factors. Recommendations have been made to enhance a better grip on the much-dreaded oral English by students of English and members of the public. Suggestions have also been made to those who wish to engage in further studies on phonetics and phonology in future.

We therefore hope that soon, the study and practical application of English phonology as an integral part of the Language will be elevated, even though most of the suggestions here made may not easily be implemented because of cash scarcity in the nation. One can only wish that those of them that do not bother on funding but awareness would be given consideration. The recruitment will not necessarily cost government much money.

The same goes for initiating a policy making English phonetics and phonology a compulsory course for not only the English undergraduates but undergraduates in all disciplines and in all institution nationwide, also the oral English, the secondary school education should be given an equal attention, if not much more than the grammar.
The success that will be recorded in this regards one hopes, will encourage the govemment to consider other recommendations for implementation.

One can only wish the authorities, educationists, lecturers, teacher and students a high success in this endeavor.

5.2 Recommendation

Apart from the suggestions for further studies, new recommendations are hereby made. In view of the research findings derived in our study, it becomes relevant to make recommendations not to the academics but to the speakers of the English in Oyo that serve as our scope of study and particularly in Nigeria as a whole. These recommendations would include schools, the governments and the administrators for education, mass media as well as everybody who comes in contact with the speaking of the English Language in Nigeria.

The following recommendations will help in solving the problems associated with some lapses in the Received Pronunciation of English fricatives.

Schools, from the kindergarten level, up to the tertiary level, should be well equipped with electronics devices for speech therapy. These electronics devices should be well taken care of in terms of services and maintenance. Pronouncing dictionaries should be purchased while modem Language laboratory should be built and provided with sound devices. This is necessary as oral English or phonology (at the higher level) cannot be taught with mere board and chalk in the classroom.

Oral English should be taught from the kindergarten level up to tertiary level of education. It should be made an integral part of English and it should be taken as such that oral English is NEVER a luxury and it should not be so viewed. It is not inferior or less important to grammar that has gained all the attention in school. English teachers should take up the tasks while pupils are still young.

Students at all levels must be exposed to the native speaker’s accent. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programmes, audio and audio visual tapes on oral English are good source of students at all levels must be subjected to hearing. This will even guide the non native teachers and the pupils/students in their studies of the English phonetics and phonology.

Individual tertiary institutions and other educational agencies, through the auspices of the government, can also make a more of compelling students at a certain level to travel abroad in order to sharpen their spoken and pronunciation cues. Better still, an organization which is concerned with only the RP English could be set up here in Nigeria as this will go a long step further in helping to promote our spoken English.

Teachers of English Language can also go a step further by putting the application of their knowledge of English phonology to daily use among their students. Government as well as educational body can also endeavor to employ teachers who have the British accents (if not British citizen) to teach and expose students to the pronunciation of the English words.

The entire populace should be enlightened until they have an awareness of the importance of the skillful pronunciation of words, such that those who make genuine effort will not become laughing stock.

Ufomata (1990) postulates that a Nigerian with impeccable English pronunciation is viewed as a “brainwashed”, someone who lacks national pride and sense of identity. This same view is shared by Afolayan (1979) who states that
There are two interesting aspects of public reaction to English pronunciation in Nigeria that touch upon acceptability. On the one hand, fluency is considered a desirable element of English pronunciation and lack of fluency is derived. On the other hand, the greater the resemblance of one’s pronunciation, the more it is frowned upon as being hyper correct.

The task before the authority on phonology, the electronics media practitioners who are trained in the art of pronunciation, teachers and everyone connected with the spoken form of English is how to make concerted efforts to update and overcome the just and mockery of populace. If the force is strong in advocating flawless pronunciation, the battle can be won in due time.

Nigerian Broadcasts that are the closest models of Standard English pronunciation to the populace should be trained and retrained in the crusade for better pronunciation. The success of these professionals can have an unlimited effect on their listeners and learners of the Language; otherwise the effect will be devastating as people swallow junks from what they hear from these sources.

It might interest the Nigerian Broadcasters that there may not be any need for them to be fashion-role models that speak with affections. The goal should be to speak the right British English with the Received Pronunciation, and not mimic the Britons.

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