The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2016 Fund Drive.
Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Non-native pronunciation of English|
|Question:||Many German adults learning English pronounce ''the'' something like ''ze'', whereas many Dutch pronounce it as ''de''. Neither German nor Dutch have a voiced /th/, but both languages have /d/ and /z/. So why does one language tend towards /z/ while the other tends to /d/?|
|Reply:||This interesting question relates to a current trend in sociolinguistics. For the last 30+ years, we have talked about dialectal variation in English in the following places: 1. countries where English has been a dominant native language for several generations and where a large proportion of the population have ancestors who came from Britain (UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada) -- Braj Kachru called these the 'Inner Circle'. 2. countries which were colonies of the UK (and, in a couple of cases, of the USA) and where English retains an important part in communication inside the country (such as India, Nigeria, Philippines). There may be large numbers of native speakers, but few of them have ancestors who came from Britain. Kachru called these 'Outer Circle'. We did not talk about the third kind of country as having dialects of English, though: 3. countries where English is not used within the country (except in classes or with foreigners)and is almost never a native language. Kachru called these 'Expanding Circle'. It is only in the last 10 years or so that there has begun to be serious study of the use of English in the Expanding Circle. One thing that is emerging is that these countries have dialects of English too, so they have their own traditions of pronouncing English. Most of these pronunciations will be transmitted from teachers to students in the process of learning English, and (like all accents) will be reinforced by hearing English spoken by one's peers. Native speakers of English from (for example) the UK who have moved to (for example) Germany as a child sometimes find that if they retain their native accent, they are laughed at in English classes, and they adapt by speaking English with a German accent. If you look at migrants in places like France or Germany, you can see that their children will acquire the English-accent of their place of upbringing rather than the one associated with their language of origin. A child who migrated from Vietnam to Germany at age 8, for example, will grow up speaking English with a German accent, while another child who grew up in Spain will learn English will a Spanish accent. Anthea|
|Reply From:||Anthea Fraser Gupta click here to access email|