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Detail of contribution

Auteur: Inyang UDOFOT

Spoken English in the West African Region

Abstract/Résumé: The English Language came to West Africa through trade, colonialism and missionary activities. The coexistence of English with the tonal languages spoken across West Africa has given birth to a West African accent. Our investigation was done using the corpus-based method where samples of utterances were collected from newscasters and university men and women in Nigeria, and the Cameroon, as well as materials from websites and journal articles on Ghana, Cameroon, and Liberia. These were analysed both perceptually and acoustically. At the segmental level it was found that there were substitutions of English phonemes with indigenous language phonemes as well as some vowel and consonant processes that are peculiar to the West African accent. It is at the supra segmental level that the West African accent is most noticeable. Phonologically, West African spoken English has syllabic tone: every syllable has a specification. Also, it has been shown that the syllables that are heard as stressed are not actually stressed in terms of the pitch accents of Germanic languages but in terms of raised and lowered tone and word boundary lowering/ juncture modification causing native English listeners to interpret the pattern as if the stress placement comes on the wrong word. The traditional description of West African Spoken English Rhythm is disputed and tone timing is suggested as an alternative description of spoken West African English Rhythm.