Telugu Speakers Of English And The Influence Of Mother Tongue On Their Comprehensibility

2316 words - 10 pages

English in India is taught and learned as a second language. The significance of the ability to speak or write English has notably increased in the 20th century. English has become the de facto standard in India not because it has been approved by any ‘standards’ organization but because it is extensively used by many information and technology industries which are acknowledged as being standard.

All learners make errors in the process of learning English. It is inevitable that they make mistakes, however, the question here is, ‘Why do learners continue to make the same mistake even when such mistakes have been repetitively pointed out to them’?
Not all mistakes are the same; some are ...view middle of the document...

The impact of these errors on comprehensibility

Context and Implications:

India has become the world’s back office. The existence of a large pool of English knowing/speaking population in India is one of the reasons. Suddenly, English has come in to the limelight. MNCs and corporate houses insist that fresh graduates have their English in its proper place, hence, learning ‘communication skills’ and ‘soft skills’ became critical.

In Hyderabad, 60 to 70 percent of the MNC employees are from Andhra Pradesh and most of them are Telugu speaking as Telugu is the first language (henceforth L1) in the state. Thus, almost 70% of the trainees are Telugu speaking and the English they speak is swayed by their L1 (Telugu). Our ears are exposed to many variations and multiple usages of English as it is spoken by trainees, colleagues and sometimes clients.

We would unconsciously explore many coinages and influences in their English. We can try and correct these in the trainees’ speech and writing after informing them why a particular phrase or sentence would be termed ‘unacceptable.’ But it gets tricky when that ‘speech’ is endorsed for similar usage in popular culture, especially films, advertisement hoardings, etc.

What is therefore required is a deeper understanding of errors, their causes and their severity in communication. We need to be armed with some theoretical understanding of errors and be aware of what we are doing in the training room.

What type of errors do learners (Telugu speakers of English) make?

Interlingual Errors
Language transfer (also known as L1 interference, linguistic interference, and crossmeaning) refers to speakers or writers applying knowledge from their native language to a second language. It is most commonly discussed in the context of English language learning and teaching, but it can occur in any situation when someone does not have a native-level command of a language, as when translating into a second language. (Source: Wikipedia)

All errors are not transfer errors, however, such errors form a major part of the learner’s speech. The transfer errors in technical dialect are called interlingual errors.
Most reflections of such errors are in the domain of phonology and syntax.

Phonology: Pronouncing the sound /Ʒ/ as /ʤ/ or /z/ as in measure is an evidence of a feature of English which is absent in the mother tongue and therefore substituted with a known sound in the language.

Syntax: Word order poses a major problem, for instance, ‘why he came?’ which is a direct translation from enduku vochchadu (Telugu) or kyon aaya (Hindi).

Morphology: Reduplicated forms are used in English for emphasis, like, big-big, heavy-heavy, etc.

Code Switching

The second kind of error is when a target form is used in a first language structure or vice versa.
For the convenience of our study, L1 is Telugu and Target Language here is English.

One of the major disputations against code switching as legitimate language phenomena is...

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