Foreign pronunciation Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:15
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In his book Foreign Accent: The Ontogeny and Phylogeny of Second Language Phonology, Roy C. writes that first language transfer is very influential and one of the most important components at the beginning stages of foreign language acquisition. (p. 31) At this point the scientist implies learning phonology, which usually takes place at the beginning of the course of a foreign language study. Another researcher, Trubetzkoy, stresses that the perception of the foreign language is filtered through the sieve of a learners mother tongue. (From Roy 2001, p. 31)

In phonology this filter resultes in producing an accent, which drew the pronunciation of the foreign language near the pronunciation of the mother tongue. The examples can be found in adopting English pronunciation all around the world: a French accent may be recognizable from word final stress patterns and uvular /R/; a German accent by the lack of /w/”/v/ distinctions; a Spanish accent by the rhythmic characteristics and lack of vowel reduction; an American accent by the /r/ and marked vowel reduction; and a Japanese accent by the lack of r/”/1/ distinctions. (From Roy 2001, p. 31)

According to Weinreich (1953), there are different types of negative transfer in phonology. The researcher Weinreich proposes to differentiate the following seven types: Sound Substitution. It occurs when a learner uses the nearest equivalent of his/her mother tongue to pronounce a sound of the foreign language. For instance, English sounds /? ? / are usually mispronounced by foreign learners. Spanish learners substitute them with dental /? ?/, French pronounce /s z/ instead of them; Hindi speakers use their retroflex /? ?/ (although Hindi also has similar sounds / ? ?/).

Phonological Processes. This concerns all allophones and allophonic processes. For example, German learners of English have a tendency to devoice the final voiced consonants: ha|t| instead of ha|d|, |bik| instead of |big|. English speakers, in their turn, are more likely to use a velarized or dark [l] for final clear [l] in French or Spanish words: eel [il] instead of. il [il] he, 1 [el] instead of el [el] he. Underdifferentiation. It takes place, when a learner misses some differentiations in foreign sounds due to the fact that his/her native language does not have these differentiations.

For instance, English has /i/ and /? /, but French learners usually use one /i/ for both; English /? / and /? / can be pronounced as one /? / by a Portuguese speaker. Over-differentiation. This process is opposite to what under-differentiation is. In the case of over-differentiation the native language of a learner contains differentiations, which do not exist in the foreign language. Though, as Weinreich points out, over-differentiation does not lead to some gross phonetic mistakes, it results in a different mental representation. (From Roy 2001, p. 32)

To illustrate over-differentiation, Roy C. brings the following examples: English /d/ and /? / are separate phonemes whereas in Spanish they are allophones (/d/ > [? ] after vowels). An English speaker thinks of the [d] in dia day as a different sound from the [? ] in nada nothing, whereas the Spanish speaker thinks of them as one sound, because they are allophones of the same phoneme. (From Roy 2001, p. 32) Reinterpretation of Distinctions. It is related with the theory, which divides features into primary and secondary, or distinctive and redundant.

For example, in American variant of English the qualitative tense/lax distinction is primary and the quantative is secondary. Native English speaker does not even hear the length of sounds, but the sound |i| in beet and bit will never be confused. In contrast, length in German words is primary and their quality is secondary, as it is seen in bieten [bi:t? n] to offer, and bitten [bit? n] to ask. Consequently, a German learner will think that in English words beet and bit the length is more important that the quality of the vowel. Phonotactic Interference.

This process takes place when a learner modifies syllable and word structures in the foreign language in order to fit the patterns in his/her native tongue. For example, Brazilian Portuguese very often pronounce the words ping pong and picnic like pin[gi] pon[gi] and pic[i] nic[i] because the syllables |in| can not be placed at the end of Brazilian words. Prosodic Interference. It takes place, when a learner substitutes prosodic patterns in the foreign language with those of his/her mother tongue, in spite of the fact that the prosodic patterns of the both languages are completely different.

Thus, a French student would incorrectly stress the last syllables in English words because in his/her native language all the words have the last syllables stressed. An English student can pronounce Chinese sentences using English intonation patterns. As the book Foreign Accent: The Ontogeny and Phylogeny of Second Language Phonology states, the finding of Weinreich, and all the similar ones, help to predict the areas which will cause difficulty in learning a foreign language.

Weinreichs differentiation of negative transfer types prompted other researches on the same topic. Thus, Moulton (1962) presents error types (from Roy 2001, p. 33), based on the linguistic and socio-linguistic contrasts between English and German. According to Moulton, while learning a foreign pronunciation, students make the following types of errors: phonemic errors phonetic errors allophonic errors distributional errors

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