Syntactic Interference: A Study of Ígálá and English Noun Phrases in Malachai 1:6 and Mathew 2:1

Ocheja Theophilus Attabor


Ígálá native speakers face some challenges in their attempt to acquire the English language and one of these challenges is encountered in their attempt to use English Noun Phrases. Learning English Noun Phrases by speakers whose mother-tongue is Ígálá is one of the most frequent and significant areas of difficulties at syntactic level which Ígálá learners of English come across due to the differences between the NP systems in both languages. The Ígálá language has an NP system that functions differently, for instance, the notion of definiteness and indefiniteness of articles are encoded differently than in that of the English language. Given the fact that articles are one of the most frequent words occurring in the English language Noun Phrase, this study pinned down such an important issue by describing how the differences between the Ígálá and English languages in concern to the Noun Phrase system cause Ígálá learners of English to commit errors (Mother-Tongue interference) in their English learning process as a result of Mother-Tongue illiteracy, incompetence in both L1 and L2, and inconsistencies in Ígálá articles. This work was anchored on PSG and labelled brackets as a model of syntactic analysis. The paper made use of bilingual text approach. The work observed that there is direct transfer of the grammatical features of Ígálá to English language and that there is positive transfer of linguistic features from Ígálá to English where there are linguistic similarities between the two languages. The paper also observed that possessive adjectives (his, my, your, her) pose no problem for Ígálá learners of English. The paper concluded by saying that the problems Ígálá L1 speakers encounter while attempting to use English Noun Phrases are based not only on the degree of differences between the Ígálá and English Noun Phrase systems, but inconsistencies in Ígálá articles.

Keywords: Second Language, Noun Phrase, Interference.

DOI: 10.7176/JLLL/60-06

Publication date:September 30th 2019


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