ANALYSIS OF THE USE OF SENTENCE STRESS AMONG SELECTED UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS OF THE OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY ILE IFE
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BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Constructively, a sentence is an anthology of words that put across sense or meaning and is formed according to the common sense of grammar. Unambiguous, short sentences are mostly considered, and more effective, as regard to long, complex ones.
Apparently, sentence is a linguistic unit of one or more words that communicates an autonomous articulation, question, demand, summon, shout, etc., and that typically has a subject as well as a predicate.
However, a sentence characteristically begins with a capital letter and ends with proper punctuation; in speech it displays decipherable, unrestrained intonation patterns and is over and over again marked by preceding and following pauses.
In general, affirmations and questions the irresistible preponderance of sentences oblige a subject and a verb, put together in a way that can stand alone, follow-on in what is called an independent clause: For instance, he picked the phone is a sentence. Subsequent to he kicked the phone is not a sentence; as a replacement for it is a dependent clause.
Even though it has a subject and a verb, it needs to be connected to something in order to complete the assertion: After he picked the phone, he answered a call; or He answered a call after he picked the phone.
Importantly, Sentences supply us with the structure for the comprehensible written turn of phrase of ideas. However, good writing skills are intrinsically vital for both academic and career success. The aptitude to write unmistakably and competently can renovate a complex and challenging writing bustle into a more creative, exciting and fulfilling writing experience. In a more lucid sense, learning sentence skills is one of the most important ways to improve your English writing skills.
On the other hand, writing is constructed by placing sentences in succession, consistently and, if a single sentence is read aloud, it should be explicable and spending time on the mechanics of sentence structure can make a huge difference in your writing.
Typically, sentences are comprised of clauses: gatherings of words that express a solitary thought. Given to that, there are two types of clauses:
- independent clauses
- dependent clauses.
Actually, independent clauses can situate unaccompanied as complete sentences whereas dependent clause needs an independent clause to complete its meaning by so doing different types of sentences are made up of different combinations of these two types of clauses.
- Simple sentences consist of just one independent clause; it needs only one punctuation mark at the end (a full stop, exclamation or question mark).
- Compound sentences are made by fusion simple sentences. Meaning that sentences joined which are intimately allied in content to make the writing more fluid.
- Complex sentences are made once there is combination of an independent clause with a dependent clause whereby the dependent clause in the following example is in italics.
However, sentence stress come to play if one need to emphasize a specific fact or point in a text, there are more than a few ways to focus the reader’s or listener’s attention on it.
Imperatively, arrangement of words: by placing an introductory word at the commencement of a sentence, for that reason, the writer makes the reader pay attention to that word; the reader is then alert for the rest of the sentence.
Undoubtedly, the English language has a towering frequency of homographic vocabulary and however, this linguistic observable fact habitually results in phonological and lexical ambiguities as well as delays in lexical and pronunciation decisions by L2 readers, more than ever those that are not capable of exploring contextual clues in pronouncing the words and ‘Improper’ or ‘incorrect’ pronunciation of some English words, primarily the homographic ones, during reading or speech making has often come with its attendant challenges and complexities for speakers of English globally.
Notably, earlier researchers who have worked on this observable fact have based their studies on inter-lingual factors associated with some sociolinguistic chemistry of languages in contact and this contact circumstances has given birth to many world Englishes ( Kachru 2014, Crystal 2015 and Schneider 2003). But further than these inter-lingual circumstances, there are some intricacies inbuilt in English which pose pronunciation challenges to speakers of the language generally and second language (L2) users in particular whereby Bryson (2015) and Soneye (2007) have identified the impact of spelling on the pronunciation of speakers of English and as well, Amayo (2013) have identified the supra-segmental as the ‘unlearn-able’ aspect of English in an L2 context.
Nevertheless away from these problems of English orthography and supra-segmental features is that one posed by homographic words to speakers of English in general and to the L2 speakers in particular and the reasons for this are numerous in that English homographic words are words having same spellings but with double or different pronunciations.
However, this duality of elocution over and over again results in what Frost, Feldman and Katz (2012) call lexical vagueness. For example, ‘read’ (present tense) is pronounced as /rí: d/ while the past tense form of the same word is pronounced / red /.
Uncertainty is a phenomenon of human language including English and wherever it occurs, it demands more than one denotation in that it manifests at the phonological, lexical, syntactic and semantic levels of language in which at all of these levels, the outcome is communication failure or miscommunication and in other words, meaning is obscured and when this happens, defective communication comes about. It turns out to be exceptionally fundamental at this point to build up the relationship in the middle of orthography and phonology from one perspective and phonology and importance on the other.
Frost et al (2012:569) express the perspective that vagueness can exist in the connection between the orthographic and phonological types of a word or between the phonological structure and its semantic representation. The purpose of union in the middle of phonology and semantics is that both help in representing meaning. A word is a phonological structure; its phonological representation is its lexical passage. Passing by this, each homographic word is given two unique passages with a specific end goal to separate it semantically. In any case, English does not have any type of visual marker (as tonal dialects do) to separate these homographic words and their different elocution suggestions. This frequently brings about semantic uncertainty.
On the flip side, this study wants to investigate empirically the challenges posed by English homographic words to some students of ObafemiAwolowo University, Ile-Ife with a sight to ascertaining their impact on communication among Nigerian undergraduates.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Moreover, Simpson (2015) identifies some of the effects of semantic uncertainty on visual word acknowledgment. Since words in this class have twofold passages, the likelihood of experiencing one of them is more noteworthy than the shot of identifying single section. At the point when bivalent words are perused as two distinct elements, they prompt postponement choice in right articulation as per-users set aside time to match elocution with importance. Undesirably, this is not a sweeping standard, and there are bounties of English words which sound the same both as verbs and as nouns: ‘travel’ (He works in a Travel Agency and he hopes to travel by air to Abuja), ‘picture’ (He remembered taking the picture at a studio but could not picture precisely which studio.) are a few examples. These arrangements of words are both phonologically and semantically unambiguous. The setting of utilization as a rule decides the real open ramifications of such lexical things.
In an L2 context, when a speaker pronounces ‘REcord’ instead of ‘reCORD’, it prompts miscommunication which, in another speech, can be called clamor. In any correspondence experience, there is the requirement for input. The adequacy of the input is subject to the capacity of the listener/reader to appropriately decipher the real messages conceived by the speaker/writer at both the intra and interpersonal levels of communication. The sending of the message in verbal communication bases upon the correct elocution of words in the language in question. Once words are not correctly pronounced, particularly homographic words, they amount to noise. Noise, for this situation, is introduced as anything that meddles with, slows down, or reduces the clearness or correctness of communication. One effortlessly saw impact of error is vagueness with its specialist duality of implications in the psyche of the listeners/readers.
Challenges postured by these English homographic to L2 learners and how they respond to such a word.
Homography as an etymological marvel is not absolutely odd to Nigerian speakers of English. This wonder exists in the different indigenous languages spoken by them. On the other hand, these languages are tonal in nature as a consequence of which words with comparative spellings are checked or declared diversely because of the diacritic signs put on them. These signs help in showing the phonological contextualization that takes into consideration right elicitation of the word as expected by the encoder in a composed content. Tone blemishes on a few words in Nigerian languages, like Yoruba for example, help in making the importance of words particular. This capacity of tone is alluded to as ‘semantic phonemicity’ (Atoye, 2014:48). For instance, the following Yoruba homographic words are made particular with the diverse tone blemishes on them: ‘Obe’ (knife) with the tone mark LM is made different from ‘Obe’ (soup) with the tone ML and this phonological contextualization admissible in Yoruba language is missing in English were L2 speakers of English with this type of backdrop are introduced to different types of homographs without any hint of phonological contextualization.
In view of the fact that English does not stain out stress placement on words in a usual text apart from in broad or narrow transcriptions, L2 learners are expected to depend on practical contextualization previous to written texts can be read and proper meanings decoded by them and this chore of practical contextualization demands higher level of language awareness on the part of L2 readers. Words that are phonologically unclear are not challenging to skilled readers but are so to preschooler and unskilled readers who translate a string into more than one conceivable phonological acknowledgment that maps into more than single word in their vocabulary.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVE OF THE PROBLEM
The general aim is to examine the use of sentence stress among some undergraduate students of the ObafemiAwolowo University Ile Ife,
Specifically the study sought to:
- examine sentence stress between some undergraduate students
- determine homographic words challenges to L2 learners
- establish the alternative used by the students in avoiding homographic words
- assess undergraduate student’s reading capability
JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
It has been scrupulously evaluated that normal speakers of a language know from 45,000 to 60,000 words. On the other hand, this shows that optimistically one must have kept these words someplace in the heads, known as mental lexicon.
However, in non-specialized each day talk, one talk about “words” while never imagining this could be a problematic idea.
It has been contended that the word could be characterized in four other courses: as far as sound structure (i.e. phonologically), regarding it’s inside honesty, as far as significance (i.e. semantically), or as far as sentence structure (i.e. grammatically).
Notably, one might have thought that the vacant spaces in writing mirror pauses in the spoken language, and that conceivably one could define the word as a unit in speech surrounded by pauses. However, in circumspectly listening to naturally occurring speech one will apprehend that speakers do not make pauses before or after each word and conceivably one could say that words can be surrounded by potential pauses in speech.
Undoubtedly, this decisive factor works much better, although it runs into problems because speakers can and do make pauses not only between words but also between syllables, for example for emphasis.
Although there is another way of how the sound structure can tell us something about the nature of the word as a linguistic unit in that one should think of stress and in countless languages (including English) the word is the unit that is fundamental for the occurrence and distribution of stress whereby spoken in isolation, every word can have only one main stress, as indicated by the acute accents (´) in the data presented in (3) below (note that one speak of linguistic ‘data’ when we refer to language examples to be analyzed).
(3) –carpenter, textbook, wáter analysis, féderal syllable, mótherunderstánd
Without doubt, the main stressed syllable is the syllable which is the most prominent one in a word.
Notably, prominence of a syllable is a role of intensity, pitch and length, with stressed syllables being pronounced louder, by means of elevated pitch, or with longer duration than the neighboring syllable(s) in which longer words repeatedly have superfluous, weaker stresses, known to be secondary stresses, which often ignore here for straightforwardness’s sake of which often times terms to be deliberate act of short cut.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY:
The scope of this study is not expected to grasp in detail all that may have been needed to develop the topic of the study in view of its wide and its natural troubles associated with obtaining data because of time constrictions which will obstruct a useful detailed development of the research topic.
Methodological methodology entails data collection whereby the subjects were made to read some semantically biased sentences containing some homographic lexical items and the subjects’ readings were recorded and analyzed. However, 24 (twenty four) undergraduate students of English language of the ObafemiAwolowo University were used as the subjects for this study of which six subjects made up of 3 students each from Yoruba and Igbo taking outs were drawn from 100 level to 400 level. The selection due to the fact that they fall within the accepted ranges of students’ admission guiding principle, distinct the Hausa counterparts those are not available in the department.