Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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Nigerian English (NigE) prosody has often been described as strikingly different from Standard English varieties such as British English (BrE) and American English. One possible source for this is the influence of the indigenous tone languages of Nigeria on NigE. This paper investigates the effects of the language contact between the structurally diverse prosodic systems of English and the three major Nigerian languages. Reading passage style and semi-spontaneous speech by speakers of NigE, BrE, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba were analysed acoustically in terms of speech rhythm, syllable structure and tonal structure. Results show that NigE prosody combines elements of intonation / stress languages and tone languages. In terms of speech rhythm, syllable structure and syllable length, NigE groups between the Nigerian languages and BrE. NigE tonal properties are different from those of an intonation language such as BrE insofar as tones are associated with syllables and have a grammatical function. Accentuation in NigE is different from BrE in terms of both accent placement and realisation; accents in NigE are associated with high tone. A proposal for a first sketch of NigE intonational phonology is made and parallels are drawn with other New Englishes.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Hausa; Igbo; intonation; Nigerian English; phrasal stress; prosody; rhythm; syllabification; tone; Yoruba
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