MOTHER TONGUE INTERFERENCE IN ENGLISH NEWS CAST: A CASE OF A KWARA TELEVISION NEWS
Language and man are inseparable and since the languages of the world come in contact, there is bound to be a problem like mother tongue interference which is a sociolinguistic phenomenon. This work takes for granted that grammatical competence is totally different from phonological competence and it has worked on this premise using phonological conventions in analysing the sampled data. The findings proved that interference at the phonological level is a major problem confronting our media houses in Nigeria with respect to spoken English. Suggestions have been proffered to effect the envisaged repair in the aspects identified.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Table of Contents vi
1.0 Introduction 1
1.1 The Research Problem 3
1.1.1 The Research Question 3
1.2 Research Purpose 3
1.3 Scope of the Study 4
1.4 Justification 5
1.5 Methodology 5
1.6 Data Description 7
1.7 Definition of some Terms 8
2.0 Introduction 11
2.1 Bilingualism/Multilingualism 11
2.2 The Status of English in Nigeria 13
2.3 Language Acquisition 16
2.3.1 Second Language Acquisition 19
2.4 Mother Tongue Interference 21
2.4.2 Phonological Interference 22
2.5 The Position of the Media in our Society 25
3.0 Introduction 28
3.1 Under-differentiation 29
3.2 Substitution 31
3.3 Hypercorrection 39
3.4 Epenthesis 40
4.1 Summary 44
4.2 Conclusion 45
4.3 Recommendations 46
If the question “what is language?” is asked, it has many senses and can be variously defined. It can be language of a particular field like science, humanity just to mention few. It can also be the animal language, sign language and many other types of languages.
Human language especially spoken dominates them all. Human language is natural. According to Adebayo (1995), “Language (Human Language) is one of the chief means by which a person learns to organise his experiences and thoughts”
In Adebayo’s words above, human language is one out of many means by which a person’s experiences and thoughts can be organised. This supports the many senses that language has. And also, without language, (spoken) thoughts will never be born and experiences of life will be wasted because no one will be able to learn from them. Communication is the major bridge that links the whole world. Communication is a crucial factor in the society at large and there is pieces evidence that prove this. The global village and the internet prove this among others.
Language whether written, spoken, sign or through any means is a tool for communication and English language, out of many languages of the world has emerged the most used language all over the world. The global village use this language (English) and it stands to be the language of the net.
English language accords respect and pride to its speakers but some have been left with the effective use of this language especially in the countries where the language (English) is not the mother tongue or the first language one comes in contact with, for instance in countries like Nigeria, Ghana and many others.
The language teachers, the broadcasters and some few others have been left with the duty of speaking the correct version of English language in Nigeria. And if this proof is true, these categories of people should speak error free English. However, it is unfortunate that some of our broadcasters still goof on air and this distorts communication. In the light of the above, this research is out to work on the use of language in English newscast under the title “Mother Tongue Interference in English Newscast: a Case of a Recorded Kwara Television News”
1.1 The Research Problem
This work knows that some issues that have become problems in our media houses have been handled by some scholars. For instance, Medubi (2007) and Okoye (2007). Both of them dwelt more on the problems confronting the press in Nigeria but not directly as this work will handle it. No one has really worked on how Mother Tongue Interference distorts communication in our media houses in Nigeria. This work will look into this problem and will try to proffer solutions.
1.1.1 Research Question
In handling the research problem above, this research will focus its attention on this question: How much does Mother Tongue Interference distorts communications in our media houses in Nigeria?
1.2 Research Purpose
The purpose of this research is to achieve some set goals.
Firstly, this research is to further enlighten the media on the importance of Standard English.
Secondly, this research is to also help the second language teachers. Since they are the foundation layers of all learners and when the foundation of a leaner is solid, anything built on it will stand erect.
Lastly, this research will be useful for the media and the second speakers of the English language on how to produce sounds of English that will be free from Mother Tongue Interference.
1.3 Scope of the Study
This work will focus on “Mother Tongue Interference in English Newscast”. Different authors have dealt with his topic from different perspectives.
Hoffmann (1991) identified four major types of mother tongue interference in English.
- a) Interference at the phonological level
- b) Interference at the grammatical level
- c) Interference at the lexical level
- d) Interference in spelling.
Alabi (2007) also identified three types of mother tongue interference in English which are: phonological interference, lexical interference and grammatical interference.
This research will concentrate on the phonological level of mother tongue interference because it deals mainly with speech (Day to day conversation).
This research topic “Mother Tongue Interference in English Newscast” is important because the problem is obvious in almost all the media houses in Nigeria.
Some authors have outlined the problems confronting our media houses in Nigeria but few have given us solutions. An author like Okoye (2007) outlined the problem of the press in Nigeria but did not give solutions to such problems.
This research is set to look into the problems and proffer solutions to them with top priority given to the phonological aspect.
This research is to analyse the Kwara Television main News. This television station has two sections of news. Basically, the news at five O’clock and the news at half past six in the evening.
This research will analyse one of the main news which is usually broadcast by two people unlike the news at five which is shorter and taken by only one person.
More people also listen to the main news compared to the one at 5pm perhaps because it is fuller or later than the first or both.
Some of the workers in the newsroom will be interviewed to know the philosophy, ideology and the brief history of the television station.
The data will be analysed using phonological rules because this is the most pervasive type of interference according Romaine (1989, p.52).
In the process, if questionnaire will be useful, it will also be composed and given to some selected people in the society to know their reactions to the media house and oral interviews can also be conducted.
These are some of the methods that have been chosen for the success of this work.
1.6 Data Description
Kwara Television Authority UHF 35 (Socially responsible) was established in 1991 under the able leadership of Mall. Ishaq Maddibo Kawu. The establishment was promulgated into a decree in (1997) with six departments.
The departments are Administration, Accounts, Marketing, News, Programmes and Engineering.
After the tenure of Mall. Maddibo, eight directors have managed the Television station and Barrister Mohammed Abdul Raheem who is the current General Manager was appointed on 16th June, 2010. And he is the General Manager till date.
This station covers up to five states which are Kwara, parts of Oyo-state, Kogi, Ekiti and Osun states.
This television station has the mind of becoming the best in all things especially in informing people and updating them in all useful and educating matters.
Most people complained of the time of the main news which is (6:30pm) half past six. Many said they will still be at work or not at home at the time of the news and few who listen to KWTV news commend that the news is fuller and it covers more of the local events which some other stations usually neglect.
1.7 Definition of Some Terms
Mother Tongue/First language (L1).
Mother tongue also called the first language (L1) is the first language a child comes in contact with in his/her environment. Mother tongue is slightly different from the first language. Mother tongue is the language of the parents especially the father while the first language is the language of the environment.
The child’s mother tongue can be his/her first language and it may not also be. In the case where a Yoruba child grows up in ‘Okene’ in Kogi-state where the language in such environment is “Ebira” the Yoruba child can or will conveniently speak, “Ebira” because of his/her environment.
1.7.1 Second Language (Target Language)
A second language (L2) is that which exists side by side with the indigenous language(s) in a bilingual or multilingual situation. It is usually an official language and as such enjoys a high status within the nation.
A second or the target language can be the fourth or the third language to be acquired but as long as someone has a language before learning another, it will be referred to as the second language or the target language
Danuta (1998, p. 4) says:
News is a late Middle English Word that means “tidings” New information of recent events. Even if we accept this definition as a useful description of what Newspaper delivers… A more useful definition might be information about recent events that are of interest to a sufficiently large group, or that may affect the lives of a sufficiently large group.
Akmajian (2001, p.109) etal says “phonology is the subfield of linguistics that studies the structure and systematic patterning of sound of human language”.
In his words, phonology is used in two ways. The first one describes the sounds of a language and the rules governing the use of those sounds. While the second refers to that part of the general theory of human language that is concerned with the universal properties of natural language sound systems.
Since language and man are not the same and they cannot be separated, problems will always arise from the two angles. Solutions must also be provided to such problems in order to have effective communication in the society.
This chapter has introduced us to the work that will be done and the next chapter, chapter two will review some works of literature by some renowned scholars in the field of language and this will establish the place of this work by linking it to some works that have been read.
In this chapter, related works in the literature as this research work is concerned will be reviewed. This will serve as bases for the whole study i.e. some aspects to be reviewed here will be used in analysing our data in chapter three.
Due to the fact that sociolinguistics is a wide field, mother tongue interference and some other related sociolinguistic aspects (including language acquisition, bilingualism and some others) have been selected for the review.
Bilingualism and multilingualism are features of sociolinguistics.
According to Coates (1993, p. 4)
Sociolinguistics has been defined as the study of language in its social context. The study of language in its social context means crucially the study of linguistic variation.
Coates (1993) also identified two types of variations which are: stylistics variation and social variation.
Mackey (1968: 554) in Romaine (1989) opines:
The study of bilingualism could therefore be said to fall within the field of sociolinguistics in so far as the later is a discipline which is concerned with the ways in which language is used in the society.
Grosjean (1982) estimated that about half the world’s population is bilingual and that bilingualism is present in practically every country of the world. It is very rare to see a country with just a language, even a language has varieties.
McGregor (2009, p. 168) opines:
Many speech communities around the world are constituted of individuals who speak two or more shared languages. I use the term bilingualism to refer to such situations allowing that more than two languages may be involved: sometimes the term multilingualism is used instead as the cover term.
From all the scholars that been quoted above, it is deducible that bilingualism is a situation whereby more than a language is present in a society and multilingualism in its case is referred to as a situation whereby more than two languages are used side by side in a geographical environment.
2.2 The Status of English in Nigeria
Nigeria is a multilingual state with (521) five hundred and twenty one indigenous languages. (Nine of these indigenous languages are dead while we have two languages (French and English) which have no native speakers. However, we have (510) five hundred and ten living languages apart from the dead and the ones whose orthography have not been designed as well as French and English) (Ethnologue; world languages; 2009). With English language co-existing with these languages in a number of situations, in other words, English language (a former colonial language) is being used to transact in the Nigeria society alongside the indigenous languages.
In the words of Alabi (2007),
It is now an established fact that English, which initially came to the Nigerian environment as a foreign language was later shaped and transformed by subsequent developments into a second language with an official status.
English language serves different functions in Nigeria among which are:
(a) It is the language of the media
(b) It is a subject/course in schools
(c) It is a tool for education
(d) It is the language of the politics
(e) English language is the lingua franca.
This shows that without the knowledge of this language, it is impossible to attain an appreciable social height in the country. English language also ascribes prestige to its speakers.
Many who speak this language (English) in Nigeria speak only to communicate. There are people who have been left with the duty of speaking the standard version of the language. Some will say since English is not their mother tongue, they can speak the language anyhow as long as they are understood.
The broadcasters, the language teachers and some others are those that people in Nigerian society look up to for standard version of English language but unfortunately; some of these people still goof and this affect communication in a negative way.
Alabi (2007, p.80) again says:
It must be remarked that the variety of English that performs these tremendous functions in Nigeria is not the same as the native speaker’s varieties spoken in Britain or America.
No matter how people tried to speak English language in Nigeria, it cannot be the same as the native speakers will speak it because “The variety of English used in Nigeria has been indigenized to suit Nigerian environment (Alabi 2007).
In all, English language in Nigeria is a status symbol which built an heir of respectability to its speakers.
2.3 Language Acquisition
Under normal circumstances, any child within the first five years will acquire the language in his/her environment. This language is known as the first language or the mother tongue.
McGregor (2009, p. 203) writes that:
Normal children in all societies acquire, within the space of a few years fluent control of a language, sometimes two or more…
Exceptions are few: children with severe physical handicaps such as extreme mental retardation, Down’s syndrome, may not acquire a language. Fully; very rarely a child is not exposed to sufficient speech.
McGregor (2009, p. 204) also says that the process of acquisition of all languages is believed to proceed through similar developmental stages”.
Language acquisition can also be the process by which children learn to speak the language of the community they are born.
McGregor has six of the stages of language acquisition which are said to have been investigated to run across all the languages.
These stages are as follow:-
- Pre-language stage cooing, beginning at about two or three months; and babbling beginning at around six months. .
- One-word stage, beginning at about a year or so; at around 12-18months children produce their first recognizable words.
- Two-word stage, beginning at about 18-20months at this stage, he claimed that a child has an active vocabulary increase to around two to three hundred.
- Telegraphic speech, beginning at two to three years of age: “In this stage, functions words and morphemes, such as preposition (in language like) English and inflectional morphemes, begin to appear”
- Basic mastery, at around four or five years.
- Elaboration and expansion especially of lexicon also to some extent grammar-continuing throughout life. Language acquisition continues thought life.
Age is very significant in language acquisition and it has been emphasized that children before puberty acquire language easily compared to adults.
This is because some scientists believed with the help of researches that the ability of the brain to transfer certain information across the two hemispheres is what makes possible the effortless acquisition of language in early childhood. (Winkler, 2007, p.45).
“There is even a critical age for acquiring sign language natively” (Winkler, 2007, p.45).
He also identified some stages in acquiring a language just as McGregor (2009, p.204) did. Winkler says stages like babbling stage, communication through single sign (word) and combination of two signs or words. There are so many features that are connected to a child’s language. English speaking children leave out function words like an, a, and the. This is also called omission of articles.
These are words that add functions rather than content to an utterance. “Even their very first sentences follow a pattern” They usually consist of a combination of a verb, noun or an adjective. Something like. “Want milk” (Winkler, 2007, p.48).
Lastly, on the note of acquiring languages, each language has its structure and children learn this structure in the process of acquiring a language. No child will learn the structure of a language that he/she does not have any contact with. They also learn the sounds of their language as well as the constraints on how those sounds can combine.
Lack of proper acquisition of a language in a child will cause lack of competence when the child grows up to use the language in the society at large.