The Monophthongs of Formal Nigerian English: An Acoustic Analysis

Nisad Jamakovic, Robert Fuchs

Postcolonial varieties of English, used in countries such as Nigeria, the Philippines and India, are influenced by local (“endonormative”) and external (“exonormative”) forces, the latter often in the form of British/American English. In the ensuing stylistic continuum, informal speech is more endonormatively oriented than formal/educated speech — which is, in turn, clearly distinguishable from British/American English. The formal subvariety is often regarded as the incipient local standard and is commonly less marked by L1 influence than the informal subvariety.

Nigerian English (NigE) is the most widely spoken African variety of English, but empirical/quantitative descriptions are rare. In this pilot study, we present an acoustic analysis of eleven phonological monophthongs and two phonological diphthongs that are commonly monophthongised. A total of 811 occurrences, produced in formal contexts by nine educated speakers of NigE with L1 Igbo, was extracted from the ICE Nigeria corpus and analysed acoustically (Lobanov-normalised vowel formants at vowel midpoint).

Results show that the NigE speakers reduced the thirteen vowel system to a total of nine distinct phonemes that closely resembles the L1 Igbo vowel inventory. This result suggests substantial L1 influence even at the level of Formal NigE.

 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2866

Cite as: Jamakovic, N., Fuchs, R. (2019) The Monophthongs of Formal Nigerian English: An Acoustic Analysis. Proc. Interspeech 2019, 1711-1715, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2866.

  author={Nisad Jamakovic and Robert Fuchs},
  title={{The Monophthongs of Formal Nigerian English: An Acoustic Analysis}},
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2019},