In modern America, there are various English vernaculars, some of which are popular, especially in specific geographic settings, and others that have been produced and developed by immigrants. Any laws of American English have gradually improved as a result of new English speakers in the United States of America. Latinos and Mexicans, for example, have deeply taken in new cultures and customs that have helped to transform the way we speak and communicate in American English. In some cases, Americans who live in cities understand immigrant English better than Native American English speakers from other parts of the world.
Speaking in the American English as the second language can often present difficulties especially to immigrants. It is imperative to understand different elements of the Native American English such as morphology, phonology, pragmatics, semantics and transfers concerns. Regularly, immigrants who speak the American English as a second language encounter errors leading to embarrassment and misunderstanding. This paper critically analyses the use of linguistics from the perspective of a Colombian model, comedian and actress with the American English as a second language. The choice of the subject has been prone to errors while speaking the American English language thereby forming a good specimen to profoundly analyzing their difficulties and use of the American English. This project critically analyses different elements that impact speakers who have learnt the American English as a second language such as Phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics.
Presenter: Ladies and gentlemen…..Sofia Vergara!
Sofia Vergara: Hola, Abuela!
Sofia Vergara: Thank you! Thank you very much! Hello, everyone! It is so wonderful to be here tonight hosting “La Noche de Sabado Vivo”! I have to thank ALL of you, because this is such a HUGE moment for me in my life. I never dreamed that I would be here in New York City. I came here all the way from a small town in Columbia called Barranquilla. Barranquilla is a Spanish word that means “Cleveland”.
Sofia Vegrara: You may have noticed that I have a bit of a accent sometimes. So, tonight, you gonna forgive me if you cannot understand what I say.
Phonology analyses the form of speech sounds (Gee 2015). It carefully evaluates different elements rooted in any language as a structure i.e. intrinsic structure employed to carefully organize speech sounds. The humor commonly attributed to her is as a result of her Spanish accent when attempting to speak the American English. From her interviews, it is clearly evident that her audiences do not seem to understand what she implies with some of the words she used. For example, in her interview, she clearly uses words such as “Abuela” and “Barranquilla” which mean grandmother and Cleveland respectively. This renders her audience confused about what she means.
In linguistics, Morphemes are considered to be the smallest components of meaning (Manboob & Knight 2010). The study of morphology involves a critical analysis of the classification and structure of the elements and structure of the components and classification of words that form the words. Apart from her Spanish accent presenting a comic effect on her audience, her morphology errors are also emphasized for the same result. She exhibits a pattern of employing incorrect prepositions, general choices of words and verb tenses. For example, during her interview, she clearly avoids the preposition ‘to’ when attempting to say “going to” and instead says “gonna” to cover up. She also employs wrong use of indefinite articles. For example, at one point she uses article “a” instead of saying “an accent” in one of her sentences. Indefinite article “an” is often employed whenever the following word begins with a vowel sound or vowel.
Semantic involves studying the connotation of expressions in linguistic for instance words, morphemes, clauses, phrases and sentences (Rowe & Levine 2009). One critical element when it comes to speaking a second language is the understanding and identifying idioms. Idioms are any utterances that exist where there is an inconsistency between the entire utterance and the meaning of different parts of the utterance (Rowe & Levine 2009). She directly translates some of the idioms from her first language, Spanish to English which makes it sound rather hilarious. This can make it hard for her audience to comprehend the sense behind the idiom. Her understanding of the idiom appears to be varied with the actual meaning.
Pragmatics involves the study of impact of the environment on meaning of words (Rowe & Levine 2009). In pragmatics, utterances can also be employed to identify affective or social meaning. Social meaning implores the information composed in utterances that denotes to the listeners on the speakers origin, educational level and social class (Rowe & Levine 2009). On her interview, she attempts to cover up her Spanish accent through the use of proper American English. She deliberately and consciously pays attention to the social meaning derived from their speech particularly when they transition to another language. The interview in front of an audience clearly renders her socially aware of the social meaning and its effect. She has been previously teased by the media and her fans which have contributed to her adoption of the American accent as a way to avoid ridicule.
Most speakers whose English is considered a second language interacted with the Native American English through music, television, internet or movies. In today’s world, technology and media has profoundly played a role in learning and teaching linguistics. The limited time in interacting with native English has largely contributed to errors during her speech. One of the key to learning English as a second language is the time spent in learning (Ortega 2011). To become fluent and literate in speaking a second language take a long process that demands dedication, patience and time. It is imperative to avoid mediums that use incorrect English and thus focus on accurate diction (Ortega 2011). Her involvement in the acting and modeling has had a profound impact on the errors in her accent. The incorrect American English from her colleagues could have contributed to the slow learning of proper American English. The Spanish language features are commonly affected by the sociolinguistic elements that are related to age, educational level and environment (Ortega 2011). The use of phonetics, vowels, morphology, syntax and lexicon has profoundly affected her speech in English especially in the way she rolls of her tongues with a Spanish accent.
Second Language Acquisition
She has the Native Spanish accent from Colombia. Most of the errors she makes in linguistics are as a result of language transfer concerns. Adults with more cognitive security, operate from a stable ground of their first language therefore manifest more interference (Ortega 2011). Sofia Vegara employs code-switching in her speech. Code switching involves inserting phrases, long stretches and words of one language into another (Ortega 2011). As a result of the growing population of residents speaking Spanish in America, Spanglish has been coined as a hybrid of Native Spanish and Native English speakers. Her pattern of code switching can be defined as Spanglish. Some of the words she employs in her interview are typical words and phrases to the American English. For instance before she starts the interview she greets the audience “hola” which in Native English is termed as “hello” and they seem to understand what she means. Nevertheless, other phrases and words that she uses are not typical to the Native American English such as “Cleveland” which in Spanish implies “Barranquilla”. This renders the audience confused on the real meaning of the word.
From the above discussion, it is clearly evident that speaking the Native American English as a second language often presents difficulties. In our daily encounters, we may be predisposed to judgments especially to those whose English was not their first language through nitpicking minor grammatical or pronunciation errors. Focusing on a person’s grammar, accent or pronunciation mistakes can often lead to embarrassment which may also affect the learning process as a result of low self-esteem.
Gee, J. (2015). Social linguistics and literacies. London [etc.]: Routledge.
Mahboob, A. and Knight, N. (2010). Appliable linguistics. London: Continuum International Pub. Group.
Ortega, L. (2011). Second language acquisition. London: Routledge.
Rowe, B. and Levine, D. (2009). A concise introduction to linguistics (2nd ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson