Contact-induced Phonological Change of the Phoneme /s/ in the Speech of EFL Learners and Teachers in Algeria: A Case Study
Keywords:EFL, ELT, Contact-induced change, Language planning/policy in Algeria
This paper investigates the phenomenon of contact-induced phonological change of the phoneme /s/ in the speech of EFL learners and teachers at the secondary schools and even Higher Education in Algeria. It is perceived that the letter ‘s’ is recurrently pronounced /z/ whenever it is positioned between two vowel sounds and that the double –ss- between two vowels is simply uttered /s/ in many words. This fact is attributed to the overgeneralization of French phonological rules however this is not the case in English. Such phonological aspects have become prominent symptoms within English as Foreign Language (EFL) classrooms prior to French overuse within Algeria’s speech repertoire due to historical and practical reasons. This study seems as a departure from the meeting point of looking at such phenomenon in teachers and/or learners’ natural conversations in EFL classrooms to a critical examination of its uses in numerous English terms. To attain this, Labov’s “observer’s paradox” (1972) was considered to overcome problems while collecting spontaneous speech data. Two different strategies were employed, structured and unstructured observations, throughout thirteen years. A total random sample of 257 respondents had been included, 204 of whom are secondary school pupils and university students, and the remaining are secondary school (trainee) teachers and university lecturers. The first group was intentionally asked to derive either nouns or adjectives from a range of words containing phoneme /s/, classify some words in a table according to the final ‘-d’ pronunciation or give the opposites –especially using the prefix ‘dis_’ – to certain words keeping the same root as well pronounce them at the end. The second group was recorded. Outstandingly, the study concludes that 98% of our informants mispronounce the given words. At last, some recommendations have been suggested to alleviate the problem.
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