Ghanaian English Pronunciation

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This book is intended to help meet the need for published works on African Englishes in general and Ghanaian English in particular. To date it is the most comprehensive analysis of the English accent used by Ghanaians, an accent that differs in a number of significant ways from the varieties of English spoken in the majority of West African countries. Using empirical phonetic data collected from a representative group of informants, the volume discusses segmental, contextual and suprasegmental features of Ghanaian English. This entails a thorough examination of the range of variant pronunciations for each consonant and vowel phoneme and of such processes as assimilation and elision. Word accentuation (stress) and intonation are also analyzed to reveal the established Ghanaian accentual patterns as well as the interaction between word-level pitch movement and sentence-level pitch contours. The comparative/contrast approach used helps identify standardized forms in the Ghanaian English accent while at the same time noting regional and/or educational variation. The analysis therefore highlights the existence of a cline of phonological systems based on the socio-educational backgrounds of Ghanaian speakers.

This book will enhance the literature on World Englishes in addition to being a great help to teachers and students of Ghanaian English. The volume also appeals to a wide range of linguists, including phoneticians and phonologists, dialectologists or sociolinguists and individuals interested in English studies or second language acquisition.


“English is the official national language of Ghana, a country which has up to 50 indigenous languages and a population of nearly 19 million. This study deals with the pronunciation of English by speakers of three of the indigenous languages, Akan (Fante and Twi), Ewe and Ga., including not only segmental phonetics and phonology, but also the suprasegmentals of accentuation or stress, and intonation. It should be emphasized that the focus of the work is not West African Pidgin English, but Ghanaian English (GhE) as spoken by those who have, at least until recently, taken British English Received Pronunciation (RP) as a target model. As such it is the first study of its kind, as well as being an important contribution to the study of 'Englishes' round the world. It should certainly be of great interest and use to both students of linguistics and teachers of English in Ghana ... This study is not only a substantial contribution, but also a stimulation, to ongoing research into Ghanaian English.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Hazel Carter, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin

“Professor Sophia Adjaye has done an impressive job of describing English as spoken by Ghanaians by examining both the segmental and suprasegmental as well as the contextual features of the English they use. By beginning with the basic phonetic and phonological descriptions of some Ghanaian languages and those of the English Language, she is able to establish the existence of a Ghanaian English accent that possesses its own historical and linguistic peculiarities. The author proves further that, like other Englishes, Ghanaian English has several regional and social dialects. By far this is the first work of its kind to establish firmly that Ghanaian English is shaped not only by L 1 characteristics but also by spelling, analogy and other native Englishes. It is the first and only work to make a significantly crisp and lucid discussion about the relationship between Ghanaian English and other Outer and Inner Circle Englishes. Professor Sophia Adjaye's experience as a Professor of English and as an educator is evident in both the rigorous synthesis and analysis she does as well as in the depth of the content and style of her writing. Her demonstration of how Ghanaian English incorporated speech patterns from different Englishes, especially, British English and, quite recently, American English (due to the rise of the United States as a political and economic power) is competently done. Furthermore, Professor Adjaye's explication of the fact that Ghanaians' English speech patterns is influenced by their level and type of education, social and economic backgrounds, regional or geographical locations, personal motivation, and their attitude to the English language is in line with current trends in Second Language Acquisition and general Sociolinguistics. Professor Adjaye's work is well written, absolutely superbly researched and will make a lasting impact and/or mark in the field of World Englishes. This work will also be useful to phoneticians, phonologists, and language acquisition teachers and researchers. It is seminal and groundbreaking ...” –Professor Samuel Obeng, Indiana University

“A careful reading of Adjaye's book readily shows that it is the most comprehensive, well-researched work with copious data on Ghanaian English (GhE) pronunciation in recent times. It is remarkable in terms of its depth and sophistication of analysis within a fairly traditional taxonomic paradigm and the fact that it is a considerable improvement on earlier impressionistic remarks on GhE phonology. Its in-depth analysis of GhE phonology makes it more focused than general works like Sey (1973) and Dropp-Dakubu (1997), which examined GhE from multi-dimensional linguistic viewpoints. The book reports a ground-breaking research on GhE pronunciation which brings into sharper focus the intersecting nature of phonology and sociolinguistics or what Honey (1997: 92) describes as sociophonology. Working from the basic assumption that Ghanaian English remains largely British norm-dependent, the author analyses the speech patterns of educated young adults of different sexes who had lived for long in Ghana. Essentially, the respondents are made up of outer circle users of English, drawn from three major linguistic groups (Akan, Ewe and Ga) in Ghana and with varying degrees of proficiency in English. The speech repertoire of respondents reflects a wide variety of choices along a unilinear continuum of style: word list, reading and connected speech (interview) ... the author has succeeded in presenting a very comprehensive picture of Ghanaian English based on data and not just impressionistic remarks. The large body of data and the painstaking in-depth analysis of same jointly constitute the strength of this work. The lucid expression, in spite of the demands of technical terminologies that go with the two models of phonological analysis, readily recommends the book to phonologists, sociolinguistics and those who take more than passing interest in the emergence of non-native accents of English. As the author recognizes, additional sociolinguistic analysis in future will enrich a work of this type. That notwithstanding, Adjaye's book is a very useful and welcome addition to the stable of publications on World Englishes.” – Dr. V.O. Awonusi, University of Lagos, Nigeria and President of the Nigeria English Studies Association

Table of Contents

Preface by Hazel Carter
The International Phonetic Alphabet
List of Abbreviations and Additional Symbols
1. Introduction: Historical and Linguistic Setting
2. The Research
3. Monophthongs: Short Vowels
4. Long Vowels and Diphthongs
5. Consonants
6. Features of Connected Speech
7. Word Accentuation
8. Intonation
9. Conclusion

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