English Fricative Rendition of Educated Speakers of English from a North-Central City of Nigeria
Keywords:English fricatives, ethnicity, sociophonology, contrastive phonology, acoustic analysis
This paper examines the influence of ethnicity on the realization of the English fricatives articulated by selected educated speakers of English from four ethnic groups of Ebira, Igala, Hausa and Okun-Yoruba residing in Lokoja, a North-Central city of Nigeria. Data for the study consist of 1080 tokens elicited from 120 informants. The study was guided by a synthesis of the theoretical frameworks of Honey’s (1997) Sociophonology and Azevedo’s (1981) Contrastive Phonology. Perceptual and acoustic analyses of the data reveal that, although speakers tendto not articulate sounds that are absent in their phonemic inventory with the dexterity expected of their level of education, co-habitation seems a factor that has robbed off on the respondents’ level of performance in this study. Results reveal further that 80% overcame their linguistic challenges to correctly articulate the test items while 30% generally had difficulty articulating the interdental fricatives /P/ and /D/ and the voiced palato-alveolar fricative /Z/; perhaps, because these sounds are absent in their respective phonemic inventories. The paper submits additionally that, phonology is still resistant to input (cf. Fajobi, 2013), level of education notwithstanding. However, positive social relations could impact positively on language use and competence in any pluralinguistic English as a second language (ESL) environment.