Onike Rahaman

Onike Rahaman (2009) carried out a research on mother tongue interference on the Yoruba learners of English and he found out that ‘a Yoruba – English bilingual stresses every syllable in the utterances he produces in English, e.g. cha 1ra 1cher instead of character or ma1ry instead of Mary. At the level of intonation, because all the syllables are stressed, a carryover effect from the dialects of Yoruba language, it becomes difficult to understand what part of an utterance a Yoruba – English bilingual is trying to emphasize. In the areas of syntactic and discourse problems of Yoruba learner of English, he states that “the syntax of English and Yoruba language have recognized problem areas such as the nominal system (such as number, quantifiers, pronoun) gender, embedded structures relative pronouns, complements) and the expression of passives. According to him, “the discourse level is ‘more pronounced at the level of greeting. For instance, the system of greeting in Yoruba differs considerably from that of English. And a Yoruba English bilingual transfers the system of greeting in Yoruba into English. The system of greetings is also observed via the production of language greetings in place of casual greetings which characterize the English discourse. (Online Wikipedia encyclopedia).Anke Nutskpo (1996) also carried out researches on the influence of mother tongue on English Language and found out that a number of elision errors are derived from mother tongue interference. Some of these include consonant clusters. Most of West African languages have no consonant clusters and this affects pronunciation of English words. Thus, words like ‘look’ for ‘looked’ or ‘pack’ for ‘packed’ appears normal. Also in specific language like the Yoruba or Ijaw language /h/ is also introduced where there is non as in /h_gz/ for egg.

Kay Williamson (1969) did some detailed work on the problems the Igbo learners of English encounters with the learning of English sounds. She notes that most Igbo dialects, with regards to the vowels e and ? are allophones of one phoneme. This is why most Igbo speakers who tend to use e for the English diphthong /ei/ does not clearly distinguish between such words as ‘gate’ and ‘get’. Also the central vowels / ? / ?:/ and / ? / are difficult for Igbo speakers because there are no Igbo vowels that are similar in quality.

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Odumah (1987) also studied the influence of ethno linguistics on English language usage of Nigerians. He found out that these influences affect all levels of linguistic analysis in the areas of phonology, morphology. According to him, the main pronunciation problems of our people are due to interference from MT. We are so conditioned by the habits of our mother tongue that very often we cannot hear the strong sounds of a new language let alone producing them. This is true of an English man learning Igbo, as of an Igbo man learning English.

Ejenihu Juliet Ngozi, (2001 ), carried out a research on “The Interference of Phonology of Igbo Language in Acquisition of English: Ikeduru local Government Area of Imo State” using the oral speech of students in the acquisition of English Language. She found out that the segmental feature of the student’s mother tongue (Igbo) interfered with their responses to the oral tests. She gave an instance of most them pronouncing the English language vowel numbers five /a:/ and diphthong number thirteen as Igbo vowel /a/. The inability of the students to distinguish the long vowels from the short ones is a major factor responsible for their deviation in pronouncing English long vowels.

According to Ejenihu, all the students deviated in pronouncing the English sound segments that were not available in Igbo phonology also constituted pronunciation problems to the students tested.

Wode (1978) also carried out some research on the influence of L1 on the L2, and he pointed out, that, first-language influenced errors may only occur at certain stages in development. Wode’s example is quite clear, and is reviewed here.

In English, the negative participle appears after the auxiliary, as in
(1) I cannot go
But before main verbs, with do – support, as in
(2) I don’t know
In German, however, the negative particle appears both auxiliaries and main verbs, as in
(3) Ich kann nicht gehenI can not go.

and (4) Ich weiss notch,
I know not,
Wode’s children, German – speakers acquiring English as a second language in the United States, produced some sentences using apparent first language influence, such as
(5) John go not to the school.

What is interesting, Wode points out, is that they did not produce such sentences early on. Their first attempt to negation were similar to what one sees in first language acquisition, such as
(6) No, you
(7) No, play base ball
They only produce sentences such as (5) when they begun to acquire the aux + neg. rule, i.e. when they had begun to produce sentences such as
(8) Lunch is no ready,
Only did they “fall back” on the more general German rule. Wode (1978, 1979) “suggests that there is, therefore, a structural prerequisite for first language influence: the performer’s interlinguistics structural description, his idea of the target language rule, must be similar to the structural description of the rule in first language, Wode’s children’s English negation rule was not all at all similar to the German rule in early stages, but it became similar when they progressed to aux – neg stage. Hence, first language influence appeared but not earlier” (qtd by Krashen, 69).According to Krashen, Duskova (1969) notes that errors in bound morphology e.g. omission of plurals on nouns, lack of subject – verb agreement, adjective – noun agreement are not due to first language influence in her Czech students of EFL: Czech nouns do not distinguish singular and plural and in Czech “the finite verb agrees with its subject in person and number”.

These errors are, rather, “interference between the other terms of the English subsystem in question” (p. 21). Moreover, these errors “Occur even in cases where the English form is quite analogous to the corresponding Czech form” (p. 21). Of 166 morphological errors, only nineteen were judged as due to Czech interference (p.66).

Sebastián – Gallés, Echeverria and Bosch (2005) also studied bilinguals and highlight the importance of early language exposure. They looked at vocabulary processing and representation in Spanish – Catalan bilinguals exposed to both languages simultaneously from birth in comparison to those who had learned L2 later and were either Spanish – or Catalan – dominant.

Findings showed ‘from birth bilinguals’ had significantly more difficulty distinguishing Catalan words from non-words differing in specific vowels that Catalan – dominants did (measured by reaction time).

LoCoco (1975), in a study of American college students learning Spanish and German in U.S, a foreign language situation, reported that the “high incidence of interlingual (L1 interference) errors in German was due to word order errors…” (p. 101) typical examples include
Hoffentlich du bist gesundHopefully you are healthy.

Correct: Hoffentlich bist du gesundandIch bin glücklich sein heir
I am happy to be here
Correct: Ich bin glucklich leer ze seinFirst language – based errors in Spanish were less numerous and “pertained primary to adjective position”. The greater word order differences between English and German as compared to English and Spanish accounts for the difference in frequencies in interference word order errors. Spanish students were more often correct in using English surface structures in utterance initiation due to the greater surface similarity between English and Spanish. This also accounts for Chan’s (1975) finding that English to Spanish interference errors occurred mainly ‘on grammatical categories absent in either the NL or TL “and not in word order. LoCoco also found that second level Spanish students showed an increase in interference type errors that loCoco calls “whole expression terms”, or word-for-word translation of an L1 expression, which is similar to what Duskova reported (qtd by Krashen 65 – 66).

Adetugbo (1984), states that the inability to express the English norms, culture and thoughts as the native speakers does, and imposing one’s way of expressing one’s native language on English is the source of semantic interference. To make this point clearer, he illustrates with words/expression’s ‘sorry’ and ‘well done’. ‘Sorry’ is used in Nigerian English as an expression of sympathy, for example when somebody coughs. While ‘well done’ is used as a greeting to anyone at work. The use of these lexical items in British English would be wrong and inappropriate ‘sorry’ in native English can be used to express a feeling or repentance (I am sorry for what I have done); ‘well done’ according to Adetugbo (1984) is a high praise salutation in native English culture for someone who has excelled at doing something.

Randall (2005:1-10) studied the spelling errors for Singaporean primary school children who dictated target words in English. The aim of the investigation was to determine if the errors produced by the Singaporean children could be attributed to the Mother 39 Tongue influences, to influences from Singaporean English or if they showed similar patterns to those produced by native English speakers at the same level. Randall (2005:1-10) found the errors produced in the Primary 2 classes to be influenced by phonology, that is the study of the sound systems in language; Randall found that the errors were due to influence from Singaporean English, but found both classes different from their native speaking counterparts in the way they processed final inflected clusters.

Keiko (2003:59-85) investigated 32 written English tasks by 36 university freshmen Japanese students. Keiko (2003:70) identified three types of article errors: omission; unnecessary insertion; and confusion. Students were first required to read a short story, and then produce four written tasks (200-250 words each). These consisted of:
making a summary;
answering a question;
creating an original sequel;
and o writing a critique.
Keiko?s (2003) study examined two error patterns committed by Japanese studying English as a second language: the genitive markers of/’s indicating possession; and the English article system a/an/the. The former was concerned with the misuse of the English preposition of, which Keiko (2003:59) considered to originate in the students’ L1. The other error type analysed was the error involving articles. The findings revealed that the difficulty arose in students? insufficient understanding of articles, a lack of experience in using them and reliance on oversimplified textbooks.

Eun-pyo (2002:1-9) conducted an error analysis study on Korean medical students? writing. The subjects in the study were 35 second year premedical students who took English Writing in the third semester of their two-year English curriculum. The primary purpose of the study was to analyse what errors intermediate to advanced level learners, at a medical college, make in their writing by reviewing their formal and informal letters. Since these learners were considered relatively of advanced level according to their scores of the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), the results were also compared with other results of basic level learners from a previous study. The number of errors and length of students? writing were analysed to see if they correlated with their official test scores. The subjects? writing was evaluated and the sentences with errors were recorded to identify the types and frequency of errors. The study revealed that approximately one fourth of errors (26%) resulted from L1 transfer. Other major errors identified were wrong words (16%), prepositions (15%) and articles (14%).

Ilomaki (2005:1-96) conducted a cross-sectional study with particular reference to Finnish-speaking and English-speaking learners of German. The researcher used learners? written output to analyse learner errors and identify reasons why different errors may have occurred. Ilomaki (2005:12) concludes that learners do not necessarily make the same errors in written and oral production, due to different processing conditions and learners with one native language do not necessarily make the same errors as learners with different native language. The study also reveals that adult learners? errors result from cross-linguistic influence, that is, when one language influences another through borrowing, interference and language transfer. Ilomaki (2005:12) argues that the age factor is not necessarily a decisive factor in second 36 language learning or in cross-linguistic influence. Ilomaki?s (2005:1-2) study is unique because the aspect of previously acquired languages other than mother tongue tend to be neglected in studies of error analysis in L2 learning acquisition process.

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El-Sayed (1982) has examined syntactic errors made by Saudi students. His findings also substantiated the previous findings that interference from the first language was the major cause of errors.

El-Sayed, A. M. M. (1982). An investigation into the syntactic errors of Saudi freshmen’s English compositions (Unpublished Ph. D. Dissertation). Indiana University of Pennsylvania,