A PHONOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE TWO-WORD STAGE OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION: A CASE STUDY OF AN ENGLISH-HAUSA BILINGUAL

A PHONOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE TWO-WORD STAGE OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION: A CASE STUDY OF AN ENGLISH-HAUSA BILINGUAL

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ABSTRACT

Human language is primarily characterized by sounds formed and produced by the Organs of Speech. This dissertation entitled; “A Phonological Description of the Two-Word Stage of Language Acquisition: A Case Study of an English-Hausa Bilingual” particularly considered the sound development of a child at two-word stage. The area of focus includes Articulatory Phonology-Segmental and Suprasegmental phonemes. These were some of the approaches used to analyse and describe the sounds of two-word utterances of the main participant of research. The aim of the study was to document the utterances of the main participant from 20-24, 32 and 33 months, and to also conduct a phonological investigation/inventory of phonemic sounds of the same participant Juju and her articulation processes.

The objectives were to analyseand describe the sound constituents, both segmental and supra segmental phonemes of the main participant, investigate the influence of supra-segmental phonemes on the child‟s contextual use of language, and ascertain if the child‟s language at this stage couldbe regarded as truly connected. This was achieved via recording of Juju‟s (name referred to the participant) utterances consequently making repeated listening expedient. Aspects of two word utterances in English were the units on which the investigations were based. However, because she is bilingual, acquiring English and Hausa simultaneously and some elements of pidgin, the other languages (Hausa and Pidgin) were not completely disregarded in the analysis.The three-media-techniques of; the diary, the audio and video recording methods were employed in the data collection process. In the analysis and description of the recorded data, the research discovered that Juju‟s utterances were characterised by gross substitution (substitution of one consonant with another, one vowel with another, substitution of vowel with consonant and substitution of consonant cluster with single consonants), reduction, simplification, inventive reduplication and deletion/elision. The research arrived at the conclusion that Juju employed these strategies of substitution, reduction, simplification, inventive reduplication and deletion to articulate sounds       at          this           stage  because   her   organs     of      speech            are       still                developing.

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

From infancy, language development of a normal child occurs spontaneously and

“effortlessly” where no formal instruction of language input to guide this development is

required. The ease with which the acquisition operates poses questions such as: “How is the

child able toprocess this information (language input) to decode what is meant? How is he

able not to randomly utter anything he knows to be a word but carefully selects the „right‟

word to communicate?” among many other questions. The curiosity over the processes of

language acquisition in children motivated scholars to study the different aspects of language

development in children as is the case in this research. This ability to acquire language is

credited to brain laterization which “…is said to increase throughout childhood until it

reaches adult level at puberty”. Reich (1986:293)

When a language is heard for the first time, what intrigues the listener the most are the

obvious properties of sound such as tone, rhythm and stress (suprasegmental phonemes). This

implies that sounds form an integral part of any verbal language or communication. These

sounds can either be speech sounds or non-speech sounds such as whistling, humming etc.

Some non-speech sounds and sign language may be rightly regarded as impaired use of

language; even though communication still transpires in either of these contexts of language

use.Due to thecentral role of sounds in human language, linguists and philosophers of

language have found it difficult to exclude sounds from their definitions of language. This is

sufficiently evidenced in such definitions as those of Sapir (1921), Hall (1968), Wardaugh,

(1972), among others. Sapir (1921:7), for instance, has acceptably defined language as “…a

purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires

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bymeans of a system of voluntarily produced symbols.These symbols are, in the first

instance,auditoryand they are produced by the so-called „organs of speech” (emphasis added).

Going by this definition, communication is the aim of any language user and this is achieved

in many situations by sounds produced by the organs of speech. Reinforcing this definition,

Hall (1968:158) submitted as follows: “language is the institution where by humans

communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral-auditory

symbols” (emphasis mine).These oral-auditory symbols are continually in use for effective

communication to take place. And this habit is acquired from childhood until teenage age or


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