JENIFA’S ENGLISH UNDER PHONOLOGICAL SCRUTINY
by Oriloye Saheedah
Read the first episode of this series here (OUT AT LAST: LINGUISTICS ANALYSIS OF JENIFA’S ENGLISH).
In a country like Nigeria, most of us undoubtedly have problems with regards to English, especially spoken English. Just like Jenifa, we transfer our native language to English language and just like in the word of exist…”. An example of such word is ‘plait’ [plᴂt] which is usually pronounced as [pleit] as in ‘plate’. [plᴂt] which is the correct form is the underlying representation while [pleit], the common Nigerian pronunciation is the phonetic representation, that is, the finaccccccl output. The final output is not always an error as is in the case of the example above. Ogójì, the word for forty in Yorùbá, for example, is a combination of ogún (twenty) and èjì (two), meaning ‘twenty in twos’ which gives forty! This is one of the natural phenomenon, a sub-field of Linguistics like Phonology aims to take up.
Going on, the underline representation (the uninfluenced form, the pure form) is ogún èjì but the vowel ún and è combined together and resulted in [o] which gives us the final output [ogójì]. The processes that make us pronounce [plᴂt] as [pleit] and ogún èjì as ogójì are called phonological processes. An instance is SPOONERISM: ‘AWON LOOK GOODING GUYS’. For example, the phonological process in the example of ‘plat’ and ‘pleit’ is diphthongization for a monothong vowel [ᴂ] has been replaced with a diphthong [ei]. While it is coalescence in the case of Yoruba’s ogún èjì which becomes ogójì, for two vowels are brought together (coalesced) to form a different vowel. Phonological processes, amongst other things, also seeks to explain that words are not pronounced in isolation, they are rather influenced by many processes that usually make them different from the underlining representation.
Where are we going with all these explanation of phonology? Simple: Phonology which deals with sounds is one of the linguistics level we shall be analyzing Jenifa’s English with. Right here, we shall dive into the phonological analysis of Jenifa’s English by looking into the phonological processes that form those funny outputs that make us grin. Iz you in?
Bamgbose, A. (1971). The English language in Nigeria. In J. Spencer (Ed.), The English language in West Africa (pp. 35-48). London: Longman
Egbe, D.I. (1979). Spoken and written English in Nigeria. In E. Ubahakwe (Ed.), Varieties and functions of English in Nigeria (pp. 86-106). Ibadan: African Universities Press.
Ọkunrinmẹta, U. (2003). Spoken English for Nigerian Students. Lagos: De-Trust Honesty Nig. Ltd.