A phoneme is the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language.
A segment is any discrete phone, produced by the vocal apparatus, or a representation of such a unit.
An allophone is a phonetic variant of a phoneme in a particular language.
A suprasegmental is a vocal effect that extends over more than one sound segment in an utterance, such as pitch, stress, or juncture pattern.
A tone is a pitch element or register added to a syllable to convey grammatical or lexical information.
Phonetic and Phonological Transfer
Phonetic differences• A phonetic difference is necessary since sounds in two languages often show different physical characteristics, including both acoustic characteristics and articulatory characteristics (Odlin).• Two languages frequently have sounds which may seem identical but which in fact are acoustically different. American English /d/ and Saudi Arabian /d/• Flege‟s analysis shows that learners can modify their production of sounds. American English /d/ Saudi Arabian Arabic /d/
Phonemic differences• Scholes has documented in his study that non- native English speakers are likely to categorize foreign language sounds largely in terms of the phonemic inventory of the native language ( cf. Liberman et al. 1957).• English native speakers distinguish between /e/ and /æ/, while speakers of Russian and Greek do not have them, whereas Persian has a phonemic contrast between them.• Phonemes /θ/ and /ð/ are present in English but not in Kurdish (Rahimpour, 2011).
Types of segmental errors• 1. Phonemic errors: some phonological errors are due to lack of certain target language phonemes in the learner‟s mother tongue. English phonemes /I/, /θ/, and /ð/ do not exist in Persian so they may pronounce think /tInk/ (Keshavarz, 2012).• Many native speakers of English have difficulty in pronouncing German /x/ because English doesn‟t have that phoneme so they may mispronounce it.
2. Phonetic errors• Phonetic errors in Moulton‟s classification involve cases of cross-linguistic equivalence at the phonemic but not the phonetic level.• German has uvular /r/ but English has retroflex /r/ so they are corresponding consonants in cognate forms but their acoustic properties differ considerably (Odlin).
3. Allophonic errors• Allophonic errors can arise in cases of interlingual identifications of phonemes in two languages.• Both English and German have a voiceless alveolar stop /t/. But speakers of American English when they pronounce (writer or whiter) is acoustically quite similar to the sound of /d/ so they may pronounce as (rider or wider), and Americans learning German are thus liable to use a voiced consonant between vowels in words such as “bitter” (Odlin).
4. Distributional errors• Transfer errors may occur, when there are distributional differences in the sounds of two languages.• One of the major sources of pronunciation errors of Iranian EFL learners is the complexity of consonant clusters, this is because Persian does not allow initial consonant clusters. school /esku:l/ (Keshavarz, 2012).
5. Spelling pronunciation• According to Keshavarz (2012) one of the other phonological errors is the spelling pronunciation of words, because the learners tend to pronounce words as they are spelled.• Wild /wIld/• Flood / flud/
6. The problem of silent letters• In English certain letters are spelled but not pronounced (Keshavarz, 2012). honest /honest/ bomb /bomb/
Suprasegmental patterns• The influence on pronunciation frequently evident in suprasegmental contrasts involving stress, tone, and other factors.• 1. Stress: Stress patterns are crucial in pronunciation since they affect syllables and the segments that constitute syllables.• COMbine n. comBINE v.
• Bansal (1976) argues that errors in stress are the most important cause of unintelligibility in Indians‟ misidentifications by listeners.diVIsions DIvisions REgions• For some words a change in the position of stress in Kurdish language results in a change either in the meaning of that word or a change in its grammatical status (Jacub, 1993).• BARzȋ (you are tall) barZȊ (height)
2. Tone• In tone languages pitch levels have phonemic significance.• Mandarian Chinese syllable (ma) represents mother when it is used with a high level tone, and horse in a low rising tone.• A study by Rintell (1984) suggests that speakers of Chinese have special difficulty in identifying the emotional states of speakers of English; in contrast to speakers of Spanish and Arabic.• Pitch in English does not signal phonemic distinctions.• Intonational signals help to structure conversation by providing signals for opening and closings for meaning of turns (Brazil, Coulthard, and Johns 1980).
• A similarity in suprasegmental patterns of two languages helps to learn the syntax of the target language (Keller-Cohen 1979).• Similarity or dissimilarity in two language intonation can affect production in other ways. Adams (1979) attributes much of the divergence of ESL speakers‟ speech rhythms to the rhythmic systems in their native languages.• The effect of suprasegmental (or segmental) transfer may often be relatively unimportant. When speaking English, a German may „sound German‟ and a Korean may „sound Korean‟ but they may still succeed in communicating gracefully, fluently, and accurately in most respects (Odlin)
The cross-linguistic frequency of phonemes• Languages tend to have a mix of sounds, some found in many languages, such as /i/, /u/, and /o/ all appeared in the phonemic inventories of over 250 languages, and some rarely found such as a voiceless pharyngeal fricative /ħ/ in Kurdish that appeared in only 12 other languages Maddison, 1984)• The facts of cross-linguistic frequency suggest that /ħ/ will cause difficulty for English speaking learners of Kurdish ( Briere 1968).
Common phonological rules1. Devoicing: a voiced consonant becomes voiceless.• German (Rad) they pronounce it as (Rat). German learners of English may have difficulty to suppress the devoicing rule, while English does not have it. They may pronounce (nod) as (not)2. There is no devoicing rule in native and target language, but speakers of Cantonese and Spanish devoice word final stops in English (Eckman, 1981a). pig pick
Syllable Structure• Japanese often had a vowel added to create a second syllable as in pig [pigə]. Japanese is one of many languages that allow very few consonants to occur at the end of a word, so Eckman attributes such errors to syllable structure typology.• Greenberg‟s analysis indicates that language are more likely to have syllables ending in two voiceless consonants (/-ps/ as in tops) than to have syllables ending in two voiced consonants (/- bd/ as in rubbed).
Native language influence is animportant factor in the acquisition oftarget language phonetics andphonology. (Odlin)
References• Keshavarz, M. H. (2012). Contrastive Analysis & Error Analysis. Tahran: Rahnama Press.• Odlin, T. (n.d.). Language Transfer: Cross-linguistic influence in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.• Rahimpour, M. (2011). A Phonological Contrastive Analysis of Kurdish and English. International Journal of English Linguistics, 10.