English is a vital channel for international communication. It is a far-spread language worth learning. Thus, the correct pronunciation of words is necessary as it provides a significant effect on the meaning of what is said. Otherwise, wrong pronunciation gives the specific word a whole different meaning, thus a key barrier to communication. Word articulation involves phonology, rhythm, intonation, segmental and suprasegmental sounds, as well as stress. They all work in coordination to produce the sound of a word.
Notably, a majority of English teachers rarely focus on teaching pronunciation. In particular, stress patterns are not taught to students, thus it becomes difficult for one to understand them. The result is that most students still have poor pronunciation and they are not aware of it. It is upon this basis of interest that research on differences in pronunciation of affluent and influence is necessary. Ten different people were picked randomly and asked to pronounce the two words. In the process, a significant pronunciation difference was noted. The research also focuses on the implication of word usage to learning and teaching of English.
Profile of Each Respondent
A total of ten respondents were asked to pronounce the words. Half of them were male, and the rest were female. All respondents were aged seventeen and above, and they had all attained secondary education. The table below summarises the data of each respondent.
Respondent Age Language background Education background Respondents
attitude 1625184-346400Pronunciation 1st respondent 17 UK English High school positive Influence - /influens/
Affluent /aefluent/ 2nd respondent 70 Spanish college positive Influence /influens/
Affluent - /afluent/ 3rd respondent 18 US English High school negative Influence /influens/
Affluent -/aeflu:ent/ 4th respondent 20 US English University positive Influence /influens/
Affluent -/aeflu:ent/ 5th respondent 67 US English postgraduate positive Influence /influens/
Affluent -/aeflu:ent/ 6th respondent 17 UK English college negative Influence - /influens/
Affluent /aefluent/ 7th respondent 80 Spanish college positive Influence /influens/
Affluent - /afluent/ 8th respondent 21 UK English High school positive Influence - /influens/
Affluent /aefluent/ 9th respondent 19 US English University positive Influence /influens/
Affluent -/aeflu:ent/ 10th respondents 18 Spanish High school Positive Influence /influens/
Affluent - /afluent/ Analysis and Discussion
From the data collected, respondents with a common language background pronounced words similarly. Nonetheless, the difference in pronunciation between the three groups of people was evident. It was also noted that pronunciation was affected by various factors. Firstly, in the research, it was pointed out that younger people had a better glimpse of the words compared to the elderly ones. For instance, despite the pronunciations being the same, articulation among the younger ones was more accurate. Thus, pronunciation becomes increasingly difficult and rigid as one grows older.
Secondly, the language background influenced much of the pronunciation. Primarily, this is because different nationalities pronounce words differently. For instance, the English language demands much stressing of words, while the Spanish language is syllabic. Thus, the reason why the Spanish respondents had difficulties pronouncing the two words. They put the primary stress on the second syllable; reason being some sounds do not exist in their native language. Respondents from the UK had the best pronunciation with stress on the first syllable as required. UK respondents are immersed in the language; they grow up in an English- speaking environment. Hence, they acquire fundamental skills from a very young age. The American respondents had a good mastery of the words. However, their pronunciation was not exact. Despite English being a common language in the United States, the pronunciation of the two words differed in intonation and stress from British English. An interesting feature about American pronunciation is that it entailed a lot of deletion; a typical example noted is the omission of /t/ in the word affluent.
Another significant feature that distinguished pronunciation is education background. For instance, respondents with more advanced academic qualifications recorded good articulation. Essentially, this is because they are more exposed to a number of English language words as compared to the high school students. Since language skills continue to advance as one progresses in education, the level of accuracy exhibited by college students is more elevated.
Lastly, the respondent's attitude varied. For example, the third and sixth respondents were moody and unwilling to pronounce the words. For this reason, they pronounced the words poorly; their intonation and stress could barely be differentiated. On the other hand, the ones who had a positive attitude were genuinely open-minded. Thus, it became easy to note their differences in pronunciation. More specifically, the Spanish respondents had a higher motivation to pronounce compared to the other two groups; they were focused on proving their competence as English is not their first language.
In a nutshell, pronunciation is an essential skill that every English speaker should possess. It determines whether or not accurate communication takes place. The level of an individual's exposure to proper English is a significant determinant in pronunciation. In this regard, the research shows a slight but sufficient degree of difference in word usage between the three groups of participants. Additionally, it indicates that other determinants such as attitude and motivation influence pronunciation. Therefore, educational institutions should not only focus on helping students pass exams but also ensuring that the learners have the ability to pronounce words correctly.
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