Absence of English Phonemes from Arabic; The Impact on EFL and ESL learners’ Production of Loanwords

Mohammed Q. Ruthan


The present study aims to address whether the absence of foreign English phonemes from the Arabic phonemic inventory have impacts of EFL and ESL learners’ pronunciation of English loanwords differently. The study adopts a comparative approach, seeking to examine whether the two groups of learners used the same or different phonemes for substituting or approximating the target phonemes. 28 English loanwords were utilized to test the productions of 15 learners at Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz University, Saudi Arabia (EFL) and 15 learners at the Center for English as a Second Language in Southern Illinois University, USA (ESL). Probing the impact of the learners’ L1, Arabic language, on the production of loanwords via numerous theories and frameworks such as transfer, approximation, and the Markedness Differential Hypothesis showed that these English loanwords underwent certain phonological modifications. Both EFL and ESL learners showed transfer from L1 to L2, native Arabic phonological processes, while only ESL learners showed a universal pattern, such as VOT approximation. That is, both EFL and ESL learners substituted /v, ɹ, tʃ/ with /f, r, ʃ/, but they differed in their production of /p/. While EFL learners substituted /p/ with /b/, ESL learners reflected approximated sound to /p/.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjel.v12n6p105

World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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