Open Access

Speech Rhythm in Ghanaian English: An Analysis of Classroom Presentations


It has been argued that prosodic features (e.g. stress, rhythm, or intonation) contribute significantly to production and comprehension among speakers of English. While it is easy to come across studies that focus on these features in native Englishes, the same cannot be said of Englishes outside native speaker contexts, especially regarding rhythm in academic discourse, although such results greatly enhance our understanding of this prosodic phenomenon. This study examined rhythm in academic Ghanaian English, using Liberman and Prince's (1977) Metrical Phonology theory. Lessons were recorded from 24 lecturers in a public university in Ghana and analyzed using the computerized speech laboratory (CSL). Cues measured were duration, pitch, and amplitude to help determine the rhythmic patterns of these lecturers. The results suggest that the rhythmic patterns produced bear similarities as well as differences with those produced by inner circle speakers. The preponderance of rhythmic patterns of strong-strong and weak- strong or strong-weak syllables in certain words presented exceptions to the theory. Based on this, it is argued that Ghanaian English appears to be a more syllable-based than a stressed-based variety, and so teachers might consider using a variety local and familiar to students in order to achieve intelligibility.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Linguistics and Semiotics, Applied Linguistics, other