An Analysis of the Pronouncing of English Monophthongs by Kurdish EFL University Students (Northern Kurmanji Speakers)

  • Sabah S. Haji Dept. of English Language, College of Basic Education, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Region – Iraq.
  • Fakhir O. Mohammed Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Region – Iraq.
Keywords: Monophthongs, mispronunciation, phonetics, Northern Kurmanji, EFL, interference, Mother language

Abstract

This study investigated the production of English monophthongs by Kurdish EFL learners at university level. Twenty native speakers of Northern Kurmanci (i.e. NK) undergraduate EFL learners read a list of sixty English words containing all the twelve English monophthongs. Their reading of the words was recorded and then transcribed by the researchers. The recording of each word was listened to several times for detecting mispronunciation of the monophthong vowel in it. After careful examination, results showed that the central vowels were the most problematic sounds for Kurdish EFL learners in terms of pronunciation followed by high back vowels. In principle, participants were expected to have problems with central vowels of English, mainly because they do not exist in their mother language, but the findings indicated that high back vowels also are quite noticeably difficult for them to correctly pronounce, even though these already exist in their mother language, NK Kurdish. The main reasons Kurdish EFL learners mispronounce English monophthong vowels are due to the absence of some of these vowels in their first language and also due to the participants’ lack of exposure to and practice of English pronunciation.

Author Biographies

Sabah S. Haji, Dept. of English Language, College of Basic Education, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Region – Iraq.

Department of English Language, College of Basic Education, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Region – Iraq.

Fakhir O. Mohammed, Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Region – Iraq.

Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Region – Iraq.

References

Abercrombie, David (1967). Elements of General Phonetics. UK: Edinburgh University Press.
Ali, E. M. T. (2013). Pronunciation problems: Acoustic analysis of the English vowels produced by Sudanese learners of English. International Journal of English and Literature, 4(10), 495-507.
Flege, J. E. (1995). “Second Language Speech Learning: Theory, Findings, and Problems”. In Winfred Strange (Ed.), Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Issues in Cross-Language Research. Timonium, MD: York Press. Pp. 233-277.
Hago, O. E. and Khan, W. A. (2015). “The Pronunciation Problems Faced by Saudi EFL Learners at Secondary Schools.” [Online] Education and Linguistics Research, 1 (2), pp. 85-99. Retrieved June 12, 2019 from http://www.macrothink.org/journal/index.php/elr/article/download/7783/6813.
Hassan, E. M. Idris (2014). “Pronunciation Problems: A Case Study of English Language Students at Sudan University of Science and Technology.” [Online] English Language and Literature Studies, 4 (4), pp. 31-44. Retrieved June 2, 2019 from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c23e/60a601e5db8a46deb668f6d92f2e5a4e2ffe.pdf/
Ladefoged, Peter (1993). A Course in Phonetics. 3rd Ed. New York: Harcourt Brace.
Ma, Lin (1997). “English Learning: An Analysis of Chinese Students' Problems in Pronunciation”. [Online] ERIC, 143, pp. 1-31. Retrieved July 3, 2019 from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED411668.pdf .
Matsubara, J. (2015). An emerging area in second language phonology: the perception of English vowels by adult second language learners. Teachers College, Columbia University Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics, 6(2), Retrieved July 2, 2019 from http://www.tc.columbia.edu/tesolalwebjournal .
Mirzaei, K, Gowhary, H., Azizifar, F. and Esmaeili, Z. (2015). “Comparing the phonological performance of Kurdish and Persian EFL learners in pronunciation of English vowels.” [Online] Procedia, 199, pp. 387-393. Retrieved June 27, 2019 from https://cyberleninka.org/article/n/1392296.pdf/ .
Munro, JM. (1993). Productions of English vowels by native speakers of Arabic: Acoustic Measurement and Accentedness Ratings. Lang. Speech 36:39-61.
O’Connor, J. D. (1980). Better English Pronunciation (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Roach, Peter. (2000). English Phonetics and Phonology: A Practical Course. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yule, George (2006). The Study of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zhang, F. and Yin, P. (2009). “A Study of Pronunciation Problems of English Learners in China.” [Online] Asian Social Science, 5 (6), pp. 141-146. Retrieved June 2, 2019 from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4732/7dad6066a0a6aa1e37a83b5ac8a5d236a583.pdf.
Published
2019-12-30
How to Cite
Haji, S., & Mohammed, F. (2019). An Analysis of the Pronouncing of English Monophthongs by Kurdish EFL University Students (Northern Kurmanji Speakers). Humanities Journal of University of Zakho, 7(4), 515-524. https://doi.org/10.26436/hjuoz.2019.7.4.561
Section
Humanities Journal of University of Zakho