Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 11 : 2 February 2011
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.



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Ghanaian English: Spelling Pronunciation in Focus

Richmond Sadick Ngula, B.A. (Hons), M.Phil.


This paper examines the phenomenon of spelling pronunciation in Ghanaian English and shows that it has become one of the features of pronunciation that have diverged from 'RP' (Received Pronunciation), the standard norm of English language proficiency that is taught to Ghanaians.

The empirical investigation of spelling pronunciation was a selection of 50 words of English based on observation of their use by different groups of educated Ghanaians over the past four years. The selected words were further put to test as readings of the words in sentences by 60 graduate students of the University of Cape Coast were recorded, observed and phonetically transcribed.

The investigation principally shows that the phenomenon of spelling pronunciation has become an unmarked feature in the way educated Ghanaians pronounce words of English. The study further suggests that two important factors account for the vastness of spelling pronunciation in Ghanaian English: the gap between spelling and pronunciation in standard British English, and the influence of L1 languages in Ghana.

The paper concludes that spelling pronunciation has become an innovative feature in Ghanaian English not only because of its widespread nature but also because it satisfies two criteria any New English variety ought to meet - maintains international intelligibility and retains local identities. The study has implications for the description of non-native varieties of English, and the norms to be used in the teaching of English as a second language in Ghana and elsewhere.


The growth and spread of English across the world has given recognition to many new varieties of English outside its native environments. Several New Englishes including Ghanaian, Indian, Lankan, Nigerian, Malaysian, just to mention a few are constantly undergoing linguistic change; change that reflects the sociolinguistic and cultural divergences of their respective geographical domains. Kachru (1997: 220/21) establishes that in the contexts of the New Englishes, "the localized norm has a well-established linguistic, literary, and cultural identity."

Thus the new English varieties have evolved into varieties which serve a wide range of purposes, and at the same time, developed their own character (Jenkins, 2003). Hence they differ from the native varieties (typically the two leading standard varieties: British and American).

The main levels on which the differences are encountered are pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary/idiom, and discourse styles. But it seems that the difference is most conspicuous in the area of pronunciation, which according to Jenkins (2000) maintains distinctive features even in educated sub varieties.

The Focus of This Paper

The issue in this paper is to examine the phenomenon of spelling pronunciation in the English of educated Ghanaians, and to describe it as one of the innovative divergent features of pronunciation that are giving Ghanaian English (henceforth, GhE) its own character.

Although spelling pronunciation manifests itself widely among educated Ghanaian users of English, it has received very little attention within the academic community in Ghana and beyond. In fact, studies on the pronunciation of GhE generally are scanty.

The notable research material include Sey's (1973) popular book, Ghanaian English: An Exploratory Survey, which treats Ghanaian English pronunciation in the appendix. While Sey identifies features of GhE pronunciation such as RP /?/ becoming /a/ in GhE; RP/?:/ being pronounced /?/ in GhE; and RP /i/ being pronounced /i:/ in GhE, he makes mention of the phenomenon of spelling pronunciation very briefly. Sey indicates, for instance, that spelling pronunciation has accounted for pronunciations like /abaut/ and /k?nstabul/ for the words 'about' and 'constable'. Although Sey's (1973) work is recognised as a classic and often cited anytime Ghanaian English is mentioned (Kachru, 1992; Simo Bobda, 2000), his treatment of GhE pronunciation in particular and GhE generally has doubtful validity. He constantly refers to the features of GhE pronunciation, for instance, as errors and deviant usage; meanwhile he begins talking about GhE pronunciation by saying that "the pronunciation of E.G.E. is markedly different from R.P…" (Sey, 1973: 143). It is clear that his work has an error analysis orientation which shows that Sey does not recognise difference and innovativeness in GhE as far his (1973) work is concerned.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Call for Papers for a Language in India Special Volume on
Autobiography and Biography in Indian Writing in English
| Call for Papers for a Special Volume on Indian Writing in English - Analysis of Select Novels of 2009-2010 | Hoping Against Hope: A Discourse on Perumal Murugan's Koolla Madari (Seasons of the Palm) | Ghanaian English: Spelling Pronunciation in Focus | The Relationship between Gaining Mastery on 'Content' (School Subject Matters) and 'Linguistic Competence Level in Second Language' through Immersion Program | Reader-centric and Text-centric Approaches to Novel - A Study of Intertextuality in Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence | Which One Speaks Better? The Field-Dependent or the Field-Independent? On the Effects of Field-Dependent/Field-Independent Cognitive Styles and Gender on Iranian EFL Learners' Speaking Performance | A Critical Look into Basic Assumptions of Teaching English as an International Language (EIL) | Digital Storytelling - A Case Study on the Teaching of Speaking to Indonesian EFL Students | The Reasons behind Writing Problems for Jordanian Secondary Students 2010-2011 | A Multidimensional Approach to Cross-Cultural Communication | A Study to Identify Problems Faced by the Heads of Secondary Schools in Kohat in North-Western Frontier Province, Pakistan | Go Beyond Education to Professionalism - Transition from Campus to Corporate | Impact of Students' Attitudes on their Achievement in English - A Study in the Yemeni Context - A Master's Degree Dissertation in TESL | Natural and Supernatural Elements in Arun Joshi's The City and the River | Pedagogical Values Obtained from a Language Class in an EFL Context - A Case Study from Indonesia | A New Tone in ELT - Positive Uses of Translation in Remedial Teaching and Learning | Training Dilemma: Analysis of Positive/Negative Feedback from the Workplace Setting in Pakistan | Learning Styles and Teaching Strategies: Creating a Balance | A Study on Evaluating the Discourse Skills of Engineering Students in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India | Syntax and Semantics Interface of Verbs | History Revisited in Oral History by Nadine Gordimer | Provision for Linguistic Diversity and Linguistic Minorities in India - A Masters Dissertation in Applied Linguistics and ELT | A Speech Act Analysis of Jane Eyre | Matriarchal and Mythical Healing in Gloria Naylor's Mama Day | Impact of Project Based Method on Performance of Students | Computer: A Device for Learning English Language - A Summary of Advantages and Disadvantages | Mobile Phone Culture and its Psychological Impacts on Students' Learning at the University Level | Review of English and Soft Skills by S. P. Dhanavel (Orient BlackSwan, Hyderabad, 2010) | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF FEBRUARY, 2011 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT. This document is better viewed if you open it online and then save it in your computer. After saving it in your computer, you can easily read all the pages from the saved document. | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Richmond Sadick Ngula, BA (Hons), M.Phil.
Department of English
University of Cape Coast
Ghana, West Africa

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