The influence of Cameroon spoken English on spelling
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This study set out to find out how Cameroon spoken English has influenced spelling in the areas such as stress, vowel quality and final consonants. This work was done through the use of a test that was administered to 100 level 200 students of the English programme at the University of Buea.
The results show that Cameroon spoken English has influenced the students’ spelling negatively. That is, because Cameroon spoke English, students tend to commit a lot of errors such as errors in expression, wrong use of words, spelling errors and errors in the use of tenses. We recommend that teachers concentrate on those areas where Cameroon spoken English might have a negative effect on students’ written English, especially spelling.
Background to the study
Cameroon is a highly multilingual and multicultural political entity. It has a plethora of native languages that research is still unable to give the exact number that co-exists in the country (Delancey and Delaney 2000). Cameroon has about 281 indigenous languages used before the arrival of the Germans (Ethnologue 2015). During this time, Cameroonians were taught in their local languages how to hunt and fish (for men) while women were taught how to cook and manage their homes.
But with the arrival of the whites, everything changed. The English language was introduced in Cameroon as early as the pre-colonial period. This was done through trade, thereby sowing the first seed of English in Cameroon. It was later fortified by the missionary authority through the Baptist and Bassal missions.
These missionary groups preached the word of God primarily in English. Besides preaching, schools were opened where English became the main language of instruction alongside other home languages. After the 1996 constitution, English became one of the official languages in Cameroon. This led to the development of two classes of people: the elite who use standard English and the less educated who mainly use pidgin English.
Cameroon English is not a definite language. This is because, after the introduction of English in Cameroon, the language became a second language to Cameroonians since their native language is their first language. Cameroon English borrowed from native languages and Pidgin English. Consequently, this led to much lexical innovation.
There is a saying that, ‘when a language moves to an environment, it takes the colour of that environment’. One of the problems plaguing ESL learners in Cameroon is that of poor spelling.
One main issue that affects spelling is pronunciation. Poor pronunciation leads to wrong spelling. This has affected the Standard sounds of English leading to new sounds known as Cameroon English sounds. This work will investigate the spelling pronunciation problems of the students learning English.
The essence of this work is to see how poor pronunciation and spelling impedes comprehension of Standard English. Therefore it is relevant to look at those errors students mostly commit in their writing. The case study is level 200 students of the University of Buea.
Statement of the problem
Not being a native speaker of English poses a difficulty to many Cameroonians learning English as a second language. This is because they might mix up their own sounds with the Standard English sounds. Thiscouldresultin spelling errors. The influence of Cameroon spoken English on spelling is relevant because it will enable us to identify the areas where Cameroonians commit errors in spelling which can be the result of poor pronunciation.
Purpose of the study/ Objectives
The English language is the most appropriate or official language used by Cameroonians as their second language for communication in official situations has to be properly used and spoken. Thus there is the need to identify the errors made by students learning English as a second language (L2). This is the main objective of this work. So this study seeks to:
- Identify the errors committed by students.
- Describe the vowel quality of Cameroon English.
- Analyse how pronunciation affects speech and writing.
- Compare the British and Cameroon stress pattern.
Three questions will help in collecting data for this work. These questions include;
- Why is pronunciation important in learning English?
- What sounds poses pronunciation problems to students?
- How is Cameroon English different from British Standard English?
Statement of hypothesis
In assessing the influence of Cameroon spoken English on spelling, the following hypothesis shall be investigated.
HI. Cameroon spoken English does not influence the spelling and pronunciation of Level 200 students of the English programme.
H2. Cameroon is spoken English significantly influence the spelling and pronunciation of the level 200 students of the English programme.
Significance of the study
This research will enable students to adjust in their pronunciation in order to improve their spelling skills. This work will be important to researchers as well as language teachers in that, they will be able to see the students’ spelling problems and be able to make improvement in their areas of difficulties. For instance, the students spelling problems may be as a result of the influence of Pidgin or Cameroon English.
It does not only limit to the teachers. But it goes to the students in that, the students may learn to avoid using any other languages which are not Standard English use in schools. Consequently, it will improve their spelling pronunciation skills. Finally, this study also contributes knowledge to the community as a whole.
This is because, if a student learns how to pronounce and spell well, the environment he/she lives in will benefit from this student, especially parents who were unable to go to school can learn from this child how to pronounce and spell certain words in English.
Scope or delimitation of the study
This work is limited only to Cameroonians who are learning English as a second language. It will focus mostly on the characteristics of Cameroon English and how they influence students’ spelling pronunciation skills in English. This research was limited to 100 level 200 students of the English programme at the University of Buea.
Definition of terms
There are some major terms in this work that need to be defined in order to facilitate the understanding of this work. These terms include Cameroon English, official language, influence, spelling, stress and pronunciation.
- Cameroon English is defined as an educated variety of English spoken by Cameroonians (Routledge 200).
- According to the Cambridge English dictionary, the official language is the language that is accepted by a country’s government for use in administration, courts, in official documents and taught in schools.
- Influence according to Dictionary.Com, is the power to affect, control or manipulate something or someone.
- Pronunciation is defined by the Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary as a way in which a particular language or word or sound is pronounced.
- Stress is also defined by the Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary as an extra force used when pronouncing a particular word or syllable.