A Probe into the Negative Impact of Sichuan Dialect on English Phonetics Learning and Countermeasures

By Qin, Qixiu | Studies in Literature and Language, October 31, 2014 | Go to article overview

A Probe into the Negative Impact of Sichuan Dialect on English Phonetics Learning and Countermeasures


Qin, Qixiu, Studies in Literature and Language


Abstract

Dialect is a kind of language variation. According to the different regional and national, there are different dialects. It directly or indirectly affects the learning of English. Through questionnaire and recording, this paper aims to analyze the differences between the pronunciation of Sichuan dialect and that of English, looks into the negative transfer of Sichuan dialect on English phonetics learning and finally puts forward some suggestions.

Keywords: English phonetics; Dialect; Pronunciation

INTRODUCTION

Among English listening, speaking, reading, writing and translating, phonetics is the base; vocabulary are remembered with the help of phonetics; and listening and speaking are conveyed through phonetics, thus we can say that phonetics is the carrier or externalization fonn of language ability. Although phonetics is a part of foreign language learning, the study of phonetics has an impact on learners' assessment on their foreign language ability and affects their scores. Besides, phonetics is an important factor to realize the communication function of language, and inaccurate phonetics may give rise to misunderstandings in communication. Therefore, phonetics is important in language learning.

In 1957, American linguist Lado (1957) put forward in the Intercultural Linguistics that in learning a foreign language, a learner relied on his mother tongue and tended to transfer linguistic forms and meanings of his first language as well as the cultures relevant to his mother tongue to foreign language learning. Ellis (1997) also pointed out that the learning of a second language would be greatly affected by the mother tongue of learners. For students whose first language is Chinese, when learning a second language-language phonetics, they will be affected by pronunciation habits of their mother tongue more or less, because there has a set of language symbol system in their minds and they will obtain known concepts by transferring their mother tongue. As a big country as China, it has lots of dialects. As a language learned first, local dialect has an influence on the learning of modem coimnon spoken Mandarin and other languages. As a branch of Southwest Mandarin, Sichuan dialect has a big influence in the southeast of China. Therefore, when learning English phonetics, students from Sichuan are usually affected by the dialect and have English phonetics with Sichuan dialect.

The writer had read major journals about foreign language and education at home in recent years and found that many scholars had studied on comparison of local dialects and English, for example, some scholars studied the effect of Hakka dialect, Shandong dialect and Cantonese on English learning. However, studies on Sichuan dialect are very few and incomplete. Thus, the writer thought it was necessary to have a study on the negative transfer of Sichuan dialect on English phonetics and to put forward countenneasures.

1. DESIGN OF THE STUDY

1.1 Study Subjects

The study subjects were 30 freshmen from West Nonnal University in Sichuan whose major was not English, including 18 boy students and 12 girl students. They came from different regions and counties of Sichuan such as Chengdu, Dazhou, Panzhihua, Jinyang and Nanchong, which almost covered all the area of Sichuan where Sichuan dialect was used. And their mother tongue was Sichuan dialect and their second language was English. Although Sichuan dialects are different in different areas of Sichuan, they are similar in general, especially in the learning of English phonetics where their similarities and their dissimilarities with English phonetics are more obvious. Furthermore, because it was not very long since they entered into an environment where mandarin was widely used and the effect of local dialect was still very strong, the study was feasible.

1.2 Study Methods

First, the writer put forward assumptive differences between Sichuan dialect and the Received Pronunciation according to his own and familiar Sichuan people's experience of learning English phonetics and dialogues, conducted investigations through questionnaire and recording, and then analyzed the study results. …

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