Acoustic Manifestation of English Lexical Stress Pattern by Native Erei Speakers

Edadi Ilem Ukam

Abstract


Lexical stress is the combination of intensity, fundamental frequency and vowel quality acoustically. Like many other non-segmental features of English, it is very vital for intelligibility, foreign accentedness and comprehensibility since wrong placement of primary and/or secondary stress in English words might lead to different interpretations. The feature is not observable in Erei, which is a tonal language, where all the syllables or vowels in a word are given strong form. Erei language is different from free variable stress system of English, and the difference between the two languages may likely result in the transfer of Erei tonal system in the articulation of English lexical stress by native Erei speakers. The study examined the deployment of English lexical stress in the speech outputs of Erei-English bilingual speakers in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State Nigeria. Eight subjects were selected from four secondary schools. Eight words, selected from Cruttenden’s Gimson’s pronunciation of English, were used for the analysis. The metrical theory, developed by Lieberman (1975), was adopted as the framework for the analysis. Findings indicated that Erei-English bilinguals place stress on the wrong syllables as shown in the native British speaker’s output, and therefore, do not observe English rhythmic alternation rules. All the syllables in a word are almost given equal prominence, a rehash of the tonal nature of Erei, affecting the intelligibility of their spoken English. Based on the findings, the study suggested the availability of well-equipped language laboratories, provision of sophisticated audio-visual aids and computerised speech equipment in Nigeria as well as language teachers in L2 situations should focus instruction on non-segmental features before the individual segments to promote international intelligibility in the speech outputs of L2 users.      


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/elr.v6n4p38

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English Linguistics Research
ISSN 1927-6028 (Print)   ISSN 1927-6036 (Online)

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