Stress and Rhythm in the Educated Nigerian Accent of English

Nkereke M. Essien


This paper examines stress in the Educated Nigerian Accent of English (ENAE) with the aim of analyzing stress and rhythmic patterns of Nigerian English. Nigerian stress and rhythmic patterns are significantly different from the British English stress and rhythmic patterns; consequently, the Educated Nigerian English (ENE) feature more stressed syllables than the native speakers’ varieties. The excessive stressed of syllables causes a contiguous “Ss” in the rhythmic flow of ENE and this brings about a “jerky rhythm” which distorts communication. To ascertain this claim, twenty Nigerian speakers who are educated in the English Language were selected by a Stratified Random Sampling technique from two Federal Universities in Nigeria. This category of speakers belongs to the educated class or standard variety. Their performances were compared to that of a Briton who was the control in the study. In analyzing their performances, the Optimality Theory analysis was used. The analyses revealed that the Educated Nigerian English speakers feature more stressed syllables in their realizations. They spend more time in pronouncing stressed syllables and occasionally lesser time in pronouncing stressed syllables and their overall tempo was faster. We conclude that the stress pattern of ENE speakers are significantly different from the native speaker’s variety represented by the control.

Keywords: Accent, Educated Nigerian English, Rhythm, Stress.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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