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 the 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 the Lagos market were sampled. The phonological approach was adopted using the 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.


Cover page i

Title Page ii

Certification iii

Dedication iv

Acknowledgments v

Table of Contents vii

Abstract xi



1.1    Background to the Study - 1 -

1.2    Statement of the problem - 3 -

1.3    Purpose of the study - 4 -

1.4    Justification of the study - 4 -

1.5    Scope of the study - 5 -

1.6    Methodology - 5 -



2.1    Phonetics - 7 -

2.2    Phonology - 10 -

2.2.1 Level of phonology - 11 -

2.3    Theoretical Framework - 12 -

2.3.1 Phonemic theory - 13 -

2.3.2 Generative Phonology - 13 -

2.3.3 Metrical Phonology - 14 -

2.3.4    Autosegmental - 15 -

2.3.5    Optimality Theory - 15 -

2.4       English Phonemes - 16 -

2.4.1.   Pure Vowel Sounds - 17 -

2.4.2   Diphthong Sounds - 18 -

2.5      Consonant sounds - 20 -

2.6      Yoruba Phonemes - 23 -

2.6.1   Yoruba Vowel sounds - 23 -

2.6.2.  Yoruba consonant sound - 24 -

2.7      Difference between English and Yoruba Phonemes - 26 -

2.7.1   Consonant Sounds - 26 -

2.7.2   Vowel Sounds - 27 -

2.8      Status of the language under Study - 27 -

2.8.1  The status of the English language - 27 -

2.8.2  The status of the Yoruba language - 28 -

2.8.3   Nigerian English - 29 -

2.9      Features of the phonology of Nigerian English: - 31 -

2.9.1  Segemental features - 31 -

2.9.2  Suprasegmental features - 34 -

2.10    Interference - 36 -



3.1     Phonological Analysis - 39 -

3.1.1  Substitution - 40 -

3.1.2  Under – Differentiation - 49 -

3.1.3    Spelling Pronunciation - 55 -

3.1.4    Epenthesis - 58 -

3.1.5    Simplification of Consonant Cluster - 62 -

3.2 Discussion - 65 -

3.3 Summary of the chapter - 67 -



4.1 Summary - 68 -

4.2       Findings - 69 -

4.3 Conclusion - 70 -

4.4 Recommendations - 70 -

              References - 71 -

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1     Background to the Study

This study is carried out to examine the effect of Yoruba on 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 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 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).               

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 gained a lot of ground among the Nigerian languages, however, it is one of the major indigenous languages in Nigeria. Therefore this study is set out to find the effect of the 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.

1.3    Purpose of the Study

          The aim of this study is to find out the effect of the 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's English variety from the received pronunciations. These features shall be identified from the recorded speech collected and analyzed. We hope to provide a 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 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 the Yoruba language spoken.

1.6     Methodology

          This work shall make use of the 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 the consonant clusters 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 underlined. The 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.




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