The Impact of Amharic Phonology on Learning English Pronunciation: The Case of Gondar College of Teachers Education

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Addis Ababa Universiy


The ma in objective of th is study was to find out we difficu lties Amharic learners of English may have in pronounc ing certain English so unds, words and sentences both on segmental and suprasegmental leve ls. According to Contrastive Analys is (CA), in lea rning the pro nunci ation of a second/ fo re ign language, we tend to pronounce the foreign so unds, word s, and se ntences accord ing to the phonological system of our mother tongue. In the realm of phonology, the difficu lty of a second language depends on the difficulty both of the sounds themselves and of the ir combinatoric possibilities. To veri fy this claim of CA empirically, 6 1 native speakers of Amharic were given two tests, a di sc rimination and a production test. The discrimination test was aimed at finding out the diniculties these subjects have in discrim in ati ng between sounds in minimal pa irs, stress (both on word and sentence le ve l) and intonation (rising and fallin g). The objecti ve of the product ion test was to find out whether the subjects could produce the so unds, words and sentences which they discriminated or otherwise. The results of this study reveal that the subjects were fo und to be better at discrimi nation than at prod uction. Most of the so unds that caused problems for the subjects were categories that are non-existent in Amharic such as: /8, 6, D, v, p, re, A, ~, i:, U:, a:/, diphthongs, consonant clusters, stress placement (both on word and sentence levels) and intonation (Wh-question, commands, final alternative, and certa inty/agreement). In some cases, sounds, stressed words, or intonat ion contours which were eas ily di scriminated and produced in one pos ition were found to be troublesome in another posi t ion. In genera l, areas of diffe rences between the phonological systems of the two languages caused the greatest difficu lties fo r the subjects



The Case of Gondar College of Teachers Education