According to Department of Linguistic and Cognitive Science of Panoma College, phonetics and phonology are two branches of linguistics that deal primarily with the structure of human language sounds.
Phonetics deals with physical manifestations of speech sounds and on theories of speech production and perception. It focuses on the realization of contrast- how these basic units are realized in precise physical terms, their acoustic properties and how these acoustic effects are produced by the human vocal tract. All phonetics are interrelated, since human articulatory and auditory mechanisms correspond to each other and are mediated by wavelength, pitch, and the other physical properties of sound. Systems of phonetic writing are aimed at the accurate transcription of any sequence of speech sounds; the best known is the International Phonetic Alphabet (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2007). In phonetics, narrow transcription specifies as many features of a sound as can be symbolized, while broad transcription specifies only as many features of a sound as are necessary to distinguish it from other sounds.
On the other hand, phonology refers to the study of how such sounds are combined in particular languages and of how they are used to convey meaning (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2007). It addresses the issues such as the nature of basic units that distinguish words in languages and how they can be combined. For example, in English there is a difference between voiced and voiceless sounds such as "bet" and "vet". The alphabets in front of each word both create minimal differences where it can distinguish words and gives different meanings too. They differ only in one sound. In phonology, speech sounds are analyzed into phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can change the meaning of a word. A phoneme may have several allophones, related sounds that are distinct but do not change the meaning of a word when they are interchanged.
From both of the articles it can be concluded that first language give so much impact to the second language especially in pronunciation; whether there are common or different elements between the languages. The common elements may facilitate in learning second language while the differences may be give difficulties.
In terms of the number of phonemes; Portuguese and Japanese language have less number of vowels than English language. Because of that there are difficulties in the second language learner (SLL) to pronounce some vowel as they did not expose or unfamiliar with the particular vowel. For example in Portuguese there is no exact sound as schwa.
Intonation, rhythm and stress are also the factors in pronunciation of second language words. The more common intonation, rhythm and stress of a language, the easier for the SLL to cope or sounds like the native speaker and vice versa. For example the Japanese speak monotonously even when they speak in English. It shows the different between native and second language speaker.
Next is nasality. Nasality in a language also influence on how the speakers pronounce or utter other words. For instance, in Portuguese language they tend to nasalize some vowel. Because of that it influences them by nasalizing /a/ and /o/ when speaking in English.
Consequently, as a second language learner, first thing first we have to learn and know all the phonemes of the language. Secondly, we have to identify the common or differences in the language. Because of that we can use the information as a guide in order to acquire second language.
Next, we have to know the manner of articulation of particular phonemes. It will guide us in order to pronounce correctly of the second language with correct position of lips and tongue. Last but not least, practice makes perfect. By practice, it will strengthen our knowledge on what and how to pronounce the words correctly.
In conclusion, it is important for SLL to know well about the second language in order to get the correct pronunciation. It is important to utter the correct pronunciation for each word to avoid misunderstanding during conversations. Once the word is pronounce wrongly, conversation will break down and to make it worst, people will look down upon us
In order to do a research, researchers should pick a suitable topic for the research and so are we. We decided to do a research on the wrong pronunciation of phonemes in English of a Malay speaker. After deciding on what to work on for the research, the process of searching samples literature reviews begins and it undoubtedly requires hard work and patient in order to find reviews that closely related with the topic. To find the exact literature review which comes up with our topic is totally difficult.
On the other hand, few poems were found easily during surveying the literature reviews. Some of the poems were saved to be choosing later for the sample to read. Website such as poems.com and poetry foundation offered various poetry that had made us feel like saving every poems from the site. However, the decision had made and the poem that the sample will be reading is taken from the "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul" novel by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Deborah Reber. The poem was first transcribed to be compared with the sample pronunciation.
Days gone and a new week begins; an appointment was made between the sample and the researchers. The venue was at the sample's house at Kem Batu Lima, Jalan Ipoh. The sample is Siti Nursyahmin, aged 17 years old. The sample made the recording session easier as she gave full cooperation and understood the instruction given.
She is now schooling at Sekolah Menegah Batu Lima and will be sitting for SPM. The girl was brought up in an average family and her academic performance is intermediate level. Her English is moderate and she often gets satisfying grades for the subject.
Just after the recording session finished, the tape was being played over and over again in order to find the mispronounced words uttered by Siti Nursyahmin. The next task after the recording is transcribing what ever the sample had uttered. Comparison between the first transcriptions was made with the second transcription.
Finally, a conclusion was drawn based on the result of the comparison. Reasons for the mispronunciation and suggestions were also included in order for the sample to improve her pronunciation.
FINDING AND ANALYSIS
Our sample is a teenage girl of 17 years old. She is still studying in form 5 at Sekolah Menengah Batu Lima, Kuala Lumpur. It is found out that she is an intermediate English reader as her reading of the poem provided has so many mistakes in terms of the pronunciation and also to understand the meaning of the English words. Still, there is a number of mispronounce phonemes but still can be accepted and understandable by us as Malaysian.
There are 11 phonemes that had been wrongly pronounce by the sample that are
With 19% of it are consonants and 81% are vowels. The most phoneme that wrongly pronounce by the sample is with 42%. Then followed by with 19% , with 7% and so on. The rest of wrongly pronounce phonemes with 4% each.
The phonemes always wrongly pronounce with the sounds .For example, the word floating pronounces as .While the sound pronounces as . For instance, "haunt" pronounces as . The phoneme and always pronounce as . For example "they" become .The sound at the back of the word always pronounce as such as the word "lies".
From our studies of her background, we conclude that her background helps her to be an intermediate English reader. Her parents work and have to use English in working environment. Her mother involves with the computer industry whereas her father is an officer.
It is mentioned earlier that she is an intermediate speaker of English since she takes a lot of extra English class with 15 hours per week. That shows that she must have exposed to English language a lot. She also reads, hear and watch English materials and also has her own favourite of English materials may one of the reason that enhance her speaking and reading skills. However, she is not a good English speaker either. She understands English texts but she hardly converse using English. This indicates that she is lacking of practice in speaking using English in her daily conversation.
It is found out that sound always mispronounce as because the norm of the first language which is Malay language, there is rare of sound. That is why the girl often mispronounces words that contain sound. For example, pronounced as .
The wrong pronounce of the phonemes also maybe because of the spelling. The girl tends to pronounce the sound based on the spelling. For example, pronounce as . The spelling contains alphabet a so the girl uttered the /a/ as .
It is said that the girl pronounce the phoneme /z/ as /s/. For example, the word lies. The reason of this mistake may because she is lacking exposure in English since she seldom reads and listens to English texts.
Another problem that had been detected from the recording is the word control. The girl pronounces it as . This is common mistake among Malay speakers. It is because of the Malay community used to pronounce words in English with Malay accent. Another example is the word "connect". Most people pronounce it as instead of " ".
It is discovered that the sample is not a weak English reader and speaker. For example, she mostly pronounces words correctly, and if there is a mistake in uttering a word, she did not repeat the same mistake for the same word. For instance, the word "the". The word "the" sometimes pronounce as and sometimes .
She may know the correct pronunciation of "the" but she sometimes unconsciously mispronounce it.
Therefore, the girl should start speaking with peers using English in order to improve her pronunciation. Informal ESL conversation groups can provide helpful opportunities to discuss topics of mutual interest in a comfortable setting.
Mass media can help in some ways. Television, radio, newspapers, and magazines can give exposure to English and information on topics that can be discussed with other people. When listens and reads to English texts, this will automatically improve pronunciation and vocabularies.
Besides, Formal ESL classes are available at many colleges and universities to help non-native speakers improve their command of English. These programs provide a variety of courses such as grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, writing, and conversation at a variety of levels. Some also offer "English for special purposes" classes, which focus on English as used in specific subject-matter areas such as business, science, or engineering.
There is so much ways for individual to improve English. The most important thing is his or her initiative and determination in learning English. Though predicaments might occur sometimes but with hard work and dare to take risks, one has high percentage in succeeding the task given. The same goes with learning English. When there's a will, there's a way.