A Contrastive Study of English and Igala Segmental Phonemes: Implications for ESL Teachers and Learners


  • Abraham Sunday Unubi Kogi State University, Anyigba




Contrastive study, English, Igala, segment, phoneme, ESL teachers and learners


This paper investigated a contrastive study of English and Igala segmental phonemes: implications for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers and learners. A contrastive analysis is a linguistic tool used in comparing two unrelated languages, and the main objective of it is to bring out the differences in the two languages compared with a view to emphasising on the effects which such differences have on both EFL teachers and learners. This research appealed only to the secondary sources of data, which included the orthographies of both languages under study. The Igala orthography was obtained from the department of Igala Language and Culture, Kogi State College of Education Ankpa, in addition to other material in Igala. The consonant and vowel phonemes of the two languages were placed contiguously in a tabular form and given appropriate heading to be able to observe their level of differences and similarities easily. Then words in which these phonemes occur in the Igala language were supplied and the phonemes indicated. Some of the findings of this research revealed the following: (i) that the consonant phonemes such as /ð/, /θ/, /s/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /v/ and /z/, and the vowel phonemes /ǝ/ and /ʌ/, which are present in English are however absent in Igala, just as  /kp/, /gb/, /ny/, /kw/, /gw/ and /nw/ that are present in Igala are absent in English; (ii) English has twelve pure vowels (monophthongs) and eight diphthongs, while Igala has fourteen monophthongs and eleven diphthongs; (iii) that these differences have posed certain teaching and learning difficulties to both EFL teachers and learners who are native speakers of the Igala language; and (iv) that while English has twenty-four consonant phonemes, Igala has twenty-three.


(1) Aluke, David Juliet. 2017. The realisation of stative and dynamic verbs in Nigerian English. Jos: University of Jos. Unpublished MA Dissertation.

(2) Bittner, M.A. 2013. Allophonic variation in English: Phoneme versus allophone. Phonetics and Phonology 2, Spring Term. Online: www.academia.edu/5330501/Allophonic_Variation_in_English_Phoneme_vs._Allophone, accessed October 30, 2018.

(3) Crystal, David. 1991. A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

(4) Dresher, Elan B. 2008. The phoneme. Online: http://www.companiontophonology.com/fragr_image/phoneme, accessed October 30, 2018.

(5) Edimeh, Francis Ohiemi. 2006. The legacies of Atta Ayegba Om’Idoko: A concise history of Igala land. 1. CUCA Communications.

(6) James, Carl. 1980. Contrastive analysis. London: Longman.

(7) Johannson, Stig. 2008. Contrastive analysis and learner language: A corpus-based approach. University of Oslo. Online: uio.no/ilos/forskning/grupper/Corpus_Linguistics_and_English_Language/papers/contras tive-analysis-and-learner-language_learner-language-part.pdf, accessed May 16, 2019.

(8) Jowitt, David. 2009. English language and literature in historical context. Jos: Spectrum Books Limited.

(9) Kopečna, P. 2008. Contrastive linguistics and contrastive analysis. Zech Republic: Masaryk University. PhD Thesis. Online: https://is.muni.cz/th/qx7jr/Thesis_2nd_draft.pdf, accessed October 29, 2018.

(10) Malah, Zubairu, and Rashid, Sebariah Md. 2015. Contrastive analysis of the segmental phonemes of English and Hausa languages. International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics 1, 2. 106-112.

(11) Moore, Andrew. 2001. Phonology. Online: http://www.shunsley.eril.net/armoore/, accessed October 30, 2018.

(12) Mugair, Sarab Kadir, and Mahadi, Tengku Sepora Tengku. 2014. A contrastive analysis of vowel sounds in English and Arabic Languages. Journal of Harmonized Research in Applied Sciences (JOHR) 2, 3. 178-183.

(13) Nwabudike, Christopher Eziafa, Kaan, Aondover Theophilus and Anaso, George Nworah. 2015. A contrastive analysis of English and Tiv segmental phonemes: Implications in ESL Learning. International Journal of Innovative Literature, Language & Arts Studies 3, 4. 1-6.

(14) Roach, Peter. 2009. English phonetics and phonology glossary (A little encyclopedia). Online: https://www.ff.umb.sk/app/cmsFile.php?disposition=a&ID=14179, accessed October 30, 2018.

(15) Szczegielniak, Adam. 2001. Introduction to linguistic theory – Phonology: The sound patterns of language. Online: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/adam/files/phonology.ppt.pdf, October 30, 2018.

(16) Unubi, Sunday Abraham. 2018b. A contrastive analysis of the use of conjunctions in English and Igala. M.A. Dissertation. University of Jos. Germany: LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing.

(17) Unubi, Sunday Abraham, and Yusuf, Sadiya. 2017. Fundamental linguistic information on English, Igala and Hausa languages. World Wide Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development 3, 12, 409-419.

(18) Unubi, Sunday Abraham, and Bello, Ebunlomo Comfort. 2019. Essential linguistic knowledge on French and English languages. Global Journal of Applied, Management and Social Sciences 16, 52-66.




How to Cite

Unubi, A. S. (2019). A Contrastive Study of English and Igala Segmental Phonemes: Implications for ESL Teachers and Learners. Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Medical Imaging, 6(6), 31–43. https://doi.org/10.14738/jbemi.66.8012