Mispronunciation of High Front and Low Hausa Vowels among the Yorùbá Speakers

  • Sale Maikanti Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
  • Jurgen Martin Burkhardt Sunway College Malaysia
  • Mei Fung Yong Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
  • Salina Binti Husain Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
  • Olúwadọrọ̀ Jacob Oludare Department of Linguistics and African Languages, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Keywords: language, learning, vowels, mispronunciation, Yorùbá


Pronunciation in second language learning is sometimes challenging, especially the vowels. Vowels such as [i] and [a] are found both in Hausa and Yorùbá but [i:] and [a:] are peculiar to Hausa alone. While Hausa has short and long vowels, Yorùbá has only oral and nasal vowels in their vowel inventories. Such phonemic differences constitute learning challenges, especially for the Yorùbá native speakers. This is a cross-sectional study design using mixed methods to examines the production of high front vowels: [i], and [i:], as well as low: [a], and [a:] Hausa vowels by the Yorùbá speakers to identify which group perform better between group 1 (Yorùbá native speakers who learned Hausa in the secondary school before going to the college of education), and group 2 (Yorùbá native speakers who learned Hausa informally before going to the college of education). The study also seeks to find out vowel substitutions that occur in the pronunciation tasks using 80 participants from 18 years old and above from the College of Education system in Nigeria who were selected based on purposive sampling. The findings were discussed in line with Flege & Bohn’s (2020) ‘Revised Speech Learning Model’. 8 stimuli were audio-recorded, transcribed, and rated by two independent raters, in addition to participant observation techniques adapted. The results of the Mann-Whitney test revealed that group 2 performed better than group 1. The study discovered also that the short [a] in the first and second syllables had the highest frequency of substitution compared to [i], [i:] and [a:] vowels. Such problems have pedagogical implications for learning Hausa as a second language.

Abstract views: 65 , PDF downloads: 56


Download data is not yet available.


Abubakar, A. (1999). Depalatalisation in Hausa: A generative approach. Maiduguri Journal of Linguistics and Literary Studies, 1, 1-19.

Abubakar M. K. (2014). Pronunciation problems of Hausa speakers of English: The case of Nigerian students in North Cyprus. Unpublished M.A. thesis, department of English language teaching, Near East Unversity.

Adekunle, O. G. (2014). Deviant realization of foreign vowels in the speech-form of Yorùbá-English Nigerian bilinguals. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 4, 720-727.

Adesola, O. (2005). Yorùbá: A grammar sketch: Version 1.0. Rutgers University, USA.

Ahmad, M. & Botne, R. (1992). Hausa reading kit: Graded text for elementary and intermediate university students. Bloomington: African Studies Program, Indiana University.

Akinlabi, A. (2007). Category change as vowel reduction: High vowels in Yorùbá. Tromso: Glowxxx.

Almalki, S. (2016). Integrating quantitative and qualitative data in mixed methods research. Journal of Educational and Learning, 5(3), 288-296.

Ata, M. I. (2015). An acoustic study of Nigerian English vowels produced by Hausa speakers. Unpublished M. A. dissertation, University of Malaya.

Baba, A. T. (1998). The Morpho-phonological alternations in the Hausa verbal form. Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Germany: Frankfurt/Main.

Babarinde, O. (2015). Knowledge of phonotactics constraints in Yorùbá: A necessary tactic behaviour for linguistic competence in the language. Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Africa, 46(1), 60-80.

Babarinde, O. (2017). Nasalization in Yorùbá: The Onko dialect perspective. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of linguistics, Igbo and other Nigerian languages, University of Nsukka, Nigeria.

Babbie, E. R. (1989). The practise of social research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Best, C. T., & Tyler, M. D. (2007). Non-native and second-language speech perception: Commonalities and complementarities. In O-S, Bohn & M. J. Munro (Eds.) Language Experience in Second Language Speech Learning: In Honour of James Emil Flege (pp. 13-34). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Best, C. T. (1994). The emergence of native-language phonological influences in infants: A perceptual assimilation model. The Development of Speech Perception: The Transition from Speech Sounds to Spoken Words, 167(224), 233-277.

Best, C. T. (1995). A direct realist of cross-language speech. In W. Strange (Ed.) Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience (pp. 171-204). Baltimore: York Press.

Blench, R. M. (2014). The origins of nominal affixes in MSEA languages: convergence, contact and some African parallels. Languages of Mainland South-East Asia: The State of the Art, 550-577.

Chilkiewicz, K. (2015). Direct language learning strategies in the theory by Rebecca Oxford in English vocabulary acquisition at the age group of 11-12-year-olds. World Scientific News, 7, 179-206.

Corder, S. P. (1967). The significance of learners' errors. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 5, 160-170.

Cowan, J. R. & Schuh, R. G. (1976). Spoken Hausa. Ithaca: Spoken Language Services.

Cox, F. (2006). The acoustic characteristics of /hBd/ vowels in the speech of some Australian teenagers. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 26(2), 147-179.

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (4th ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Crystal, D. (1988). A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. New York: Basil Blackwell Ltd.

Deterding, D. (1997). The formants of monophthongs vowels in standard British English pronunciation. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 27(1-2), 47-55.

Deterding, D. (2003). An instrumental study of the monophthongs vowels in Singapore English. English Worldwide, 24(1), 1-16.

Eberhard, D. M., Gary, F. S., and Charles D. F. (eds.) (2020). Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-third edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International.

Eme, C. A., & Uba, E. D. (2016). A contrastive study of the phonology of Igbo and Yorùbá. UJAH: Unizik Journal of Arts and Humanities, 17(1), 65-84.

Fábùnmi, F. A. (2010). Vigesimal numerals on Ifẹ̀ (Togo) and Ifẹ̀ (Nigeria)/Dialects of Yorùbá. Linguistik Online, 43(3/10), 1-44.

Fagge, U. U. (2012). Hausa language and linguistics. Zaria, Nigeria: Amadu Bello University Press Ltd.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004). National policy on education. Abuja: Ministry of Education.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (2020). Nigeria certificate in education minimum standards for languages. Abuja, Nigeria: National Commission for Colleges of Education (TETFund Project).

Ferragne, E., & Pellegrino, F. (2010). Formant frequencies of vowels in 13 accents of the British Isles. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 40(01), 1-34.

Flege, J. E. (1995). Second language speech learning: Theory, findings, and problems. Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Issues in Cross-Language Research, 92, 233-277.

Flege, J. E., Bohn, O., & Jang, S. (1997). Effects of experience on non-native speakers’ production and perception of English vowels. Journal of Phonetics, 25(4), 437-470. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1006/jpho.1997.0052, on 16/6/2019.

Flege, J. E., & Bohn, O. S. (2020). The revised speech learning model (SLM-r).


Furniss, G. (1991). Second level Hausa: Grammar in action. London: SOAS.

George, D., & Mallery, M. (2003). Using SPSS for windows step by step: A simple guide and reference. Indiana University, USA: La Sierra University.

Gordon, R. G., JR. (ed.), (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth Edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved from online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/15,on /10/2019.

Haruna, M. H. (2008). Phonology in language II acquisition: The study of Igbo people living in sabongari speech community, acquiring Hausa as a second language. Unpublished M. A. thesis, department of Nigerian languages, Bayero University Kano, Nigeria.

Hillenbrand, J., Getty, L. A., Clark, M. J., & Wheeler, K. (1995). Acoustic characteristics of American English vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97(5), 3099-3111.

Hodge, C. T., & Umaru, I. (1963). Hausa basic course. Washington, D.C.: Foreign Service Institute.

Holten, E. H., & Burnett, M. B. (1997). Qualitative research methods. In R. A. Swanson, & E. F. Holton (Eds.) Human Resource Development Research Handbook: Linking Research and Prentice (pp. 623-649). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Ibrahim, S. (2000). Contrastive analysis of gender usage in Hausa and Yorùbá languages. Journal of Method, Language and Literature (JOMLLO), 1(2), 38-49.

Igbokwe, C. O. (2015). Recent curriculum reforms at the basic education level in Nigeria aimed at catching them young to create change. American Journal of Educational Research, 3(1), 31-37.

Jaggar, P. J. (1992). An advanced Hausa reader with grammatical notes and exercises. London: SOAS.

Jaggar, P. J. (1996). Hausa newspaper reader. (Publications of the African Language Project). Kensington, Md.: Dunwoody.

Jaggar, P. (2001). A reference grammar of Hausa. Philadelphia Pennsylvania: John Benjamins.

Keshavarz, M. H. & Khamis, A. M. (2017). An investigation into pronunciation problems of Hausa speakers, learners of English. International Online Journal of Education and Teaching (IOJET), 4(1), 61-72.

Kraft, C. H. & Kirk-Greene, A. H. M. (1973). Hausa. (Teach yourself books). London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Kraft, C. H. & Kraft, M. G. (1973). Introductory Hausa. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Leedy, P. D. & Ormrod, J. E. (2005). Practical research: Planning and designing (8th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education International.

Mahmoud, B. (2017). Phonological interference of Ebira in the Hausa spoken by Okene speech community. Unpublished M. A. thesis, department of Nigerian languages Bayero University Kano, Nigeria.

Maikanti, S. (2003). A basic course for Hausa learners. Ondo: Complete Printing Press.

Maikanti, S., Shu’aibu, A. & Uba, A. (2013). A comprehensive Hausa course for L1 & L2 learners (with exercises). Ibadan: Alafas.

Maikanti, Thai, Burkhardt, Fung, Husain, & Olúwadọro (2021). Mispronunciation and Substitution of mid-high front and back Hausa Vowels by Yorùbá Native Speakers. REILA: Journal of Research and Innovation in Language, 3(1), 1-16.

Maiunguwa, A. (2015). Perception and production of English fricatives by Hausa speakers. Unpublished M. A. dissertation, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (1995). Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 45 (1), 73-97.

Mutonya, M. (2008). African Englishes: Acoustic analysis of vowels. World Englishes, 27(3-4), 434-449.

Newman, P. (1995). Hausa tonology: complexities in an 'easy' tone language. In J. Goldsmith (ed.) The Handbook of Phonological Theory (PP. 762-781). Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell.

Newman, P. (2000). The Hausa language: An encyclopedic reference grammar. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Nhem, D. (2019). Language learning strategies: A comparative study of young and adolescent Cambodian learners. International Journal of Language and Literary Studies, 1(2), 34-45.

Olubode-Sawe, F. O. (2010). Devising a Yorùbá vocabulary for building construction. PhD dissertation, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo, Nigeria.

Olusola, O. A. (2015). Comparative study of English and Yorùbá morphological system-implication for Nigerian teachers and learners of English. International Journal of English Language and Linguistics Research, 3(4), 1-8.

Olúwadọrọ̀, J. O. & Abiloa, A. (2016). Olukumi: A dialect of Yorùbá in diaspora. Papers in English and Linguistics (PEL), 17, 320-332.

Pillai, S., Mohd, D. Z., Knowles, G. & Tang, J. (2010). Malaysian English: An instrumental analysis of vowel contrast. World Englishes, 29(2), 159-172.

Qin, Z., & Mok, P. P. K. (2013). Discrimination of Cantonese tones by speakers of tone and non-tone languages. Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics 34. Retrieved 20 November 2019 from https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/12864.

Rovai, A. P., Baker, J. D., & Ponton, M. K. (2013). Social science research design and statistics: A practitioner’s guide to research methods and IBM SPSS analysis (2nd ed.). Chesapeake, VA: Water-tree Press.

Salisu, T. & Grema, M. (2018). A study of automatic assimilation and palatalization in Bade language. Yobe Journal of Language, Literature & Culture (YOJOLLAC), 6, 102-109.

Samson, G. Y., Abdullahi, A., & Olagunju, T. S. (2014). Mother tongue interference in the pronunciation of English sounds by Yorùbá language speakers. Academia. Edu. Online retrieved August 23, 2020, 1-6.

Sani, M.A.Z. (2005). An introductory phonology of Hausa with exercises. Kano: Benchmark Publishers Limited.

Sani, M.A.Z. (2007). Tsarin sauti da nahawun Hausa. Ibadan: University Press.

Sharbawi, S. H. (2006). The vowels of Brunei English: An acoustic investigation. World Englishes, 27(3), 247-264.

Shehu, A., & Njidda, I. U. (2016). Tone realisation in Hausa spoken by Fulfulde native speakers. Online retrieved October 5, 2019. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319306356.

Sileyew, K. J. (2019). Research design and methodology. In-text mining-analysis, programming and application. Intech Open.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.85731.

Skinner, N. (1972). Hausa for beginners, 3rd ed. Zaria: Nigeria National Publication Company.

So, C. K., & Best, C. T. (2010). Cross-language perception of non-native tonal contrast: Effects of native phonological and phonetic influences. Language and Speech, 53(2), 273-293.

So, C. K. (2010). Categorizing Mandarin tones into Japanese pitch-accent categories: The role of phonetic properties. In a presentation at INTERSPECH 2010 satellite workshop on “Second Language Studies: Acquisition, Learning, Education and Technology”. Tokyo, Japan.

Ṣowande, E. J. (1913). A dictionary of Yorùbá language. Lagos: Church Missionary Society Bookshop.

Stella, M. (1985) “Speech synthesis”. In F. Fallside & W. A. Woods (Eds.) Computer Speech Processing (pp. 421-460). Prentice-Hall International: London.

Tailor, P. A. (1992). The OSPREY speech synthesis system. Technical report. Centre for Speech Technology and Research (CSTR). The University of Edinburgh.

Uwaifo, V. O. & Uddin P. S. O. (2009). Transition from the 6-3-3-4 to the 9-3-4 system of education in Nigeria: An assessment of its implementation on technology subjects, Studies on Home and Community Science, 3(2), 81-86, DOI: 10.1080/09737189.2009.11885280.

Wu, X., Munro, M. J., & Wang, Y. (2014). Tone assimilation by Mandarin and Thai listeners with and without L2 experience. Journal of Phonetics, 46, 86-100.

Yang, C. (2018). The effect of L1 tonal status on the acquisition of L2 Mandarin tones. International Applied Linguistics, 29, 1-14.
How to Cite
Maikanti, S., Burkhardt, J., Yong, M. F., Husain, S. and Oludare, O. (2021) “Mispronunciation of High Front and Low Hausa Vowels among the Yorùbá Speakers”, Malaysian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (MJSSH), 6(7), pp. 321 - 335. doi: https://doi.org/10.47405/mjssh.v6i7.921.