Teaching English-Yoruba Prosodies in Context: Connectivity in Disparity

Atolagbe, Adebukunola A.


The paper discusses a core feature that differentiates Nigerian English from other native Standard English varieties, namely the English prosodies of Stress-Rhythm-Intonation, in the light of the dominant L2 transfer feature of Nigerian spoken English’s Yoruba ‘tone-prominence’. Particular attention is given to Pitch which translates phonetically into Yoruba ‘Tones’.

It discusses how the language use of popular street urchins in Lagos, Nigeria (popularly called ‘Area boys’) has been successfully used (among other registers) to teach the English prosodies of stress (embedding ‘pitch’), Rhythm and Intonation (also embedding ‘pitch’) in a multilingual but largely Yoruba L2 ‘tone-prominence’ speech community.

A prosodic theoretical framework is adopted in the discussions and analysisof data, hitherto used in teaching a graduating class of B.A. English students who had been taught courses in English phonology throughout their four year course. It is argued that despite the disparity between the two language systems of Yoruba and English at the prosodic level, the language of ‘Lagos Area Boys’ creates some connectivity which the typical undergraduate student of English can identify with and which is used to successfully teach Pitch in particular, even though that language register is largely ‘tone-prominence’ based. Moving from the known to the unknown is always a useful teaching methodology and this approach has been employed here. Thus, an established connectivity in disparity can and indeed has, been used successfully within the Yoruba-English L2 language contact situation.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijelt.v1n2p28


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International Journal of English Language Teaching ISSN 2329-7913 (Print) ISSN 2329-7921 (Online)

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