THE EFFECT OF YORUBA ON THE SPOKEN ENGLISH OF MUSHIN MARKET WOMEN

ABSTRACT

This study examined the effect of Yoruba language on the sound system of spoken English language among the indigenous Mushin Yoruba market women in Lagos. It was to find out the features that distinguish Lagos Yoruba accent from the received pronunciation. The speech of ten selected market women from Mushin Lagos was used. Market women who were native of Mushin and who have been doing business in Lagos market were sampled. Phonological approach was adopted using snowball sampling technique. It was discovered that phonological features of Nigeria English such as substitution, under-differentiation, spelling pronunciation, epenthesis and simplification of consonant cluster were the common features found in the oral English of the samples. The English of the sample has been affected by their L1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background of the study

This study is carried out to examine the effect of Yoruba on the spoken English of Mushin market women in Lagos state. The need to examine and correct the wrong pronunciation of English words in many Nigerian market women, particularly among the Mushin market woman in Lagos demands extra effort and great attention. This is because, it is observed that this problem is the result of the features found in their indigenous languages which are transferred to the sound system of the English language. Their English phonetics reflects the structure of the sound system of their mother tongue (Osisanwo 2009). With respect to this, we shall discuss the term phonology.

Phonology is the sound system of a language. It is the study of the properties of the sound system of a given language. It is the systematic study of how the speech sounds function and are organized in human languages. Hyman (1975:1) cited by Osinanwo (2009:3) asserted that, the goal of phonology is to study the properties of the sound system which speakers must learn and internalize in order to use their language for the purpose of communication. According to Oyebade (1998:2) phonology is the scientific study of the arbitrary vocal symbol used in human speech and the pattern into which these symbols produce intelligent, meaningful utterances.

Akmajian et al (2008:109) asserted that ‘phonology is the subfield of linguistics that studies the structure and patterning of sound in human language’. Hence, speakers of Nigerian English are still facing a lot of pronunciation problems as a result of their L1 influence on their spoken English (Alabi, 2007). So many works have been done on the segmental features of the phonology of Nigerian English such as Utin (2009) based on the Anang accent of English language.

Mushin lies on the railway from Lagos and at the intersection of roads from Lagos, Shomolu, and Ikeja. After the 1950 independence from the Great Britain, there became large migrations to the sub-urban areas. This led to intensive overcrowding as a result, poor sanitation and inadequate housing lead to poor living conditions.  However, since the rise of industrialization in Nigeria, Mushin has become one of the largest beneficiaries of the industrial expansion. Their local commercial enterprises include spinning and weaving of cotton, shoe manufacturing, bicycle and motorized-cycle assembly, along with the production of powdered milk (Jowith, 1991).   The multilingual nature of Nigeria has become one of her greatest challenges in recent time. Inconsistent language policy, successive government’s inability to pick any of the indigenous languages as a national language, non-codification of many minority languages, inadequate definition of roles for indigenous languages in governance, among others, are some of the major harbinger of this crisis. Although Nigeria has between 250 and 400 indigenous languages (Ogunwale 2013) none of the languages has been considered worthy of adoption as national language. Attempt was made to popularize an artificial language, akin to Swahili of the East Africans, in the 1990s, but that was also unsuccessful as it contains mostly bits of words and vocabularies found only in the three major languages, namely WA (Yoruba); ZO (Hausa) and BIA (Igbo), neglecting the other languages. English Language has since continued to gain so much prominence in the country that its dominance has stifled the growth (and even led to the extinction of some) of the 529 indigenous languages in Nigeria. The dominance, as could be decipher, is not inflicted, but by a natural course of indispensability of the language as its use cuts across different spheres of the nation. However, when one considers the fact that the linguistic situation in Nigeria before colonisation was that in which indigenous languages thrived and promoted cultural values of the people, then it will be expedient to unravel why the indigenous languages suddenly take the back seat. In the course of colonization, Nigerian indigenous languages had contact with the language of the colonialists; the latter was more favored than the former. English language then became the language of colonial administration. At independence the language was bequeathed to Nigeria as a nation, especially because it was the only language that was used for administration, missionary work and later education. Even after attaining independence, Nigeria has not been able to have language policies that could create functions for the indigenous languages. The existing policy which is an aspect of the Education Policy of 1977, has only feebly assigned roles that have been difficult to execute so effectively. The status of these three languages as major languages is captured in the National Policy of Education formulated in1977 (and which has subsequently been revised in 1981, 1989, 1998 and 2004). The Nigerian Language Policy is a document of the Federal Government of Nigeria, which has statutory guidelines regarding the official use of different languages in the country. Although the policy documents and stresses the importance of language to national development, as a means of promoting social interaction and national cohesion, as well as preserving the nation’s rich cultural heritage, but its implementation has not been diligently executed. The Yoruba language is mainly spoken in West Africa with millions of speakers mainly in Nigeria and Benin with some in other parts of Africa. The traditional ruler is known as the Timi Agbale, the most prominent Timi in recent history is Oba John Adetoyese Laoye who made the “talking drum” popular. He was reputed to have entertained the Queen of England with his group of skilled drummers and poets when she first visited Nigeria and thereafter in her palace in England before he died in 1975. The present King of the town is Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal (Laminisa 1). The Ede speech community being a largely indigenous Yoruba community uses the Standard Yoruba dialect which is also known as the Oyo dialect. The Yoruba language has been classified as one of the major languages in Nigeria simply because of the population that speaks it. In recent times certain factors such as the economy and location of schools has brought the people in contact with other languages. Yoruba generally do not have major difficulties understanding each other, the case of Igbo dialects is different. The difference between dialects can be illustrated by comparing German and Danish. A Germanspeaking person might be able to read and understand most of a text written in Danish, but will not understand a word of spoken Danish.

1.2   statement of the problem                                                       

Despite the fact that various studies has previously been conducted on the phonology of Nigeria English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages respectively, however, research gaps exists in the area of the effect of Yoruba on the spoken English of Mushin Market women in Lagos which this study sets to bridge.  It is obvious that language has gain a lot of ground among the Nigeria languages, however it is one of the major indigenous language in Nigeria. Therefore this study is set out to find the effect of Yoruba language particularly the Mushin Yoruba dialect on the phonology of English.  That is, it is to check the influence of the Mushin Lagos Yoruba dialect on the sound system of the English language at the segment level. In other words, this work will find out the English phonemes which are mispronounced by the Mushin indigenous Yoruba market women.

 

 

  • Purpose of the Study

The aim of this study is to find out the effect of Mushin Yoruba dialect on the phonology of standard British English (SBE). That is, the changes that may likely occur as a result of the contact of the Mushin Lagos Yoruba dialect and English. In other words, this work is to search for the features that distinguish the phonology of Nigeria English variety from the received pronunciations. These features shall be identified from the recorded speech collected and analyzed. We hope to provide solution to bridge the gap in the differences.

1.4      Justification of the Study

A lot of research works have been done on phonologic interferences. This work is to add to the efforts that have been made. Our concentration is on this topic because much has not been done particularly on the phonological interference of Mushin Lagos Yoruba dialect and the English language. Also the cosmopolitan nature of Mushin Lagos Yoruba draws our interest. This work shall help the Mushin indigenous Yoruba market women and other readers on their spoken English.

1.5     Scope of the Study

Phonology can be handled from different angles; for instance, segmental aspect can be treated, attention can be paid to only suprasegmental aspect  and the two levels can be jointly discussed. This research work shall direct its focus on the segmental phonology. Due to time, financial constraints and for effective result we shall limit our study domain to only Mushin market in Lagos. Twenty market women shall be tested, out of which ten shall be selected. The selection shall base on deepness in Yoruba language spoken.

1.6     Methodology

This work shall make use of recorded speech of ten selected market women from Mushin market, Lagos. Samples are selected using snowball sampling techniques as a result of the limited number of accessible market women. Only market women that are native of Mushin in Lagos and have spent at least two years doing business in the market are sampled.

A theoretical application shall be phonemic theory, a phonological approach will be explored to analyze the samples. In this regard, elements such as substitution, under-differentiation, spelling pronunciation, epenthesis and simplification of consonant cluster that constitute the phonological features of Nigerian English will be deplored. Each of these elements will be applied across the data and any deviation from the SBE will be under lined. Tabular form shall be used for the comparison.

Finally the sound system of English and Yoruba shall be treated. This will enable us to know the differences between the sound systems. Also it will assist us to determine the causes of the effect of which may likely occur in the spoken English of indigenous Mushin Yoruba market women as L2 learners. The phonology of Nigerian English, phonetics and phonology shall be discussed in the next chapter.

1.7 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

To aid the successful completion of the study the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

H0: Yoruba language does not have any significant impact on the spoken English market women in Mushin

H1: Yoruba language does have a significant impact on the spoken English of market women in Mushin

H02: Yoruba language does not have any effect on the eloquence level of market women in Mushin.

H2: Yoruba language does have a significant effect on the eloquence level of market women in Mushin

1.8 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The scope of the study covers the impact of Yoruba language on the spoken English market women in mushin, in the cause of the study, the researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

(a) Availability of research material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.

(b) Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

(c) Finance: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.

1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Language

Language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so, and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Questions concerning the philosophy of language, such as whether words can represent experience, have been debated since Gorgias and Plato in Ancient Greece.

Spoken English

English is the primary language of the international business world. Knowing how to speak English properly is paramount to your success in business.

Yoruba language

Yoruba (Èdè Yorùbá) Yoruba is a member of the Volta-Niger branch of the Niger-Congo family oflanguages. It is spoken by about 28 million people in southwest Nigeria, Benin, Togo, the UK, Brazil and the USA. It is one of the four official languages of Nigeria, along with English, Hausa and Igbo.

  • Organization of the study

This research work is organized in five chapters for easy understanding as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study it’s based thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion and recommendations made of the study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: SPROJECT NG