CAN ORTHOGRAPHY INFLUENCE INTERLANGUAGE PHONOLOGY? THE CASE OF POLISH LEARNERS OF ENGLISH AND THEIR PRONUNCIATION OF DIPHTHONGS [eɪ] AND [əʊ]
According to Selinker, interlanguage is a separate linguistic system that adult L2 learners create during the acquisition of their target language (Selinker 1972), and it is linked to both their L1 and L2 as well (Tarone 1994). Interlanguage has already been studied taking into consideration its particular components, one of which are pronunciation patterns. What influences the pronunciation patterns of interlanguage is an orthography, which can trigger L1 like pronunciation. The present study aimed at testing the hypothesis in the case of adult Polish learners of English, levels Intermediate to Mastery, and their pronunciation of English diphthongs in spontaneous speech (according to Tarone (1982), it is during spontaneous speech when interlanguage is the most visible). The research consisted in analysing the database of mispronounced words, created within a project (called PLEC) ran at the University of Łódź in Poland. All the words in the database contained mispronunciations, but it was not always a diphthong that was mispronounced. All the tokens in the data bank that contained diphthong [eɪ] or diphthong [əʊ] in their target phonetic shape were taken into consideration. These diphthongs have their counterparts in Polish, but they are always written with two letters and the two grapheme-representations are fixed for particular diphthongs, which is not the case in English. Therefore, the expectations of the study were - inter alia - that the one grapheme-representations of the diphthongs would more often be mispronounced than their two grapheme-representations (two more hypotheses were also stated but the chi-square analyses showed that the results for them were insignificant). It turned out that the hypothesis was in fact rejected by the results for the diphthong [eɪ] but it had to be alternated in case of the diphthong [əʊ] (the majority of one graphemerepresentations of the latter were mispronounced, but there were no two graphemerepresentations of the diphthong in the database to make an appropriate comparison, that is why the second variable became more than one grapheme-representations, as there was one such in the database: a four grapheme-one) and then it was in fact confirmed. As no gratifying explanations for the contrastive results were found, it was finally assumed that what influences pronunciation patterns of interlanguage could be in fact a few factors that somehow cooperate with each other, hindering or facilitating L2 learners pronunciation. Such a hypothesis could be a subject of future studies.
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