The formation of regional and national features in African English pronunciation
An exploration of some non-interference factors
Serious studies on English pronunciation in Africa, which are only beginning, have so far highlighted the regional and sociolinguistic distribution of some features on the continent. The present paper revisits some aspects of these studies and presents a sort of pronunciation atlas on the basis of some selected features. But more importantly, the paper examines how these features are formed. It considers, but goes beyond, the over-used theory of mother-tongue interference, and analyses a wide range of other factors: colonial input, shared historical experience, movement of populations, colonial and post-colonial opening to other continents, the psychological factor, speakers’ attitudes towards the various models of pronunciation in their community, etc. For example, the Krio connection accounts for some striking similarities between Nigerian, Sierra Leonean and Gambian Englishes despite the wide geographical distance between them. The positive perception of their accent, which they judge superior to the other West African accents, has, in the past three decades, shaped the English pronunciation of Ghanaians in a particular way. The northward movements of populations have disseminated to East Africa some typically Southern African features. Links between Southern and East Africa, and Asia, are reflected in the presence of some Asian features in East and Southern African Englishes. The paper shows how African accents of English result from the interaction between the influence of indigenous languages and Africans’ exposure to several colonial and post-colonial Englishes.
Published online: 09 May 2003
Cited by 14 other publications
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