Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 6 June 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Phonological, Grammatical and Lexical Interference in Adult Multilingual Speakers

Deepa M.S.
Avanthi N.
Abhishek B.P.
Shyamala Chengappa, Ph.D.

Aim of the Study

To analyze the different types of language interference (Phonological, Grammatical and Lexical) in multilingual adult speakers.

Language Interference

Language interference is the alternative use by bilinguals of two or more languages in the same conversation. The ability to switch linguistic codes, particularly within single utterances, requires a great deal of linguistic competence. Language interference is a linguistic practice constrained by grammatical principles and shaped by environmental, social and personal influences including age, length of time in a country, educational background and social networks.

Language interference is a practice constrained by grammatical principles and shaped by environmental, social and personal influences (Milroy and Wei, 1995).

Interference of L1 on L2 on Various Levels of Language

Interference of L1 on L2 occurs in many components levels like phonological, lexical, grammatical, etc.

Berthold et. al, (1997) define phonological interference as items including foreign accent such as stress, rhythm, intonation and speech sounds from the first language influencing the second.

Grammatical interference is defined as the first language influencing the second in terms of word order, use of pronouns and determinants, tense and mood. Interference at a lexical level provides for the borrowing of words from one language and converting them to sound more natural in another and orthographic interference includes the spelling of one language altering another.

Transfer may be conscious or unconscious. Consciously, learners or unskilled translators may sometimes guess when producing speech or text in a second language because they have not learned or have forgotten its proper usage. Unconsciously, they may not realize that the structures and internal rules of the languages in question are different. Such users could also be aware of both the structures and internal rules, yet be insufficiently skilled to put them into practice, and consequently often fall back on their first language.

A Brief Review of Literature

Ellis (1997) studied L1 influence on L2, where he considered 108 bilingual subjects in the age range of 8 to 18 years. He refers interference as 'transfer', which he says is the influence that the learner's L1 exerts over the acquisition of an L2. He argues that transfer is governed by learners' perceptions about what is transferable and by their stage of development in L2 learning. In learning a target language, learners construct their own interim rules (Selinker, 1971, Seligar, 1988 and Ellis, 1997).

Albert and Obler (1978) considered 35 adult speakers and claimed that people show more lexical interference on similar items. So it may follow that languages with more similar structures (Eg English and French) are more susceptible to mutual interference than languages with fewer similar features (Eg English and Japanese). On the other hand, we might also expect more learning difficulties and thus more likelihood of performance interference at those points in L2 which are more distant from L1, as the learner would find it difficult to learn and understand a completely new and different usage. Hence the learner would resort to L1 structures for help (Selinker, 1979; Dulay et al, 1982; Blum-Kulka & Levenston, 1983; Faerch & Kasper, 1983, Bialystok, 1990 and Dordick, 1996).

Carroll (1964) studied 53 young children that L2 requires the L2 learner to often preclude the L1 structures from the L2 learning process, if the structures of the two languages are distinctly different the circumstances of learning a second language are like those of a mother tongue. Sometimes there are interferences and occasionally responses from one language system will intrude into speech in the other language.

Beardsmore (1982) studied 168 bilingual subjects in the range of 20- 30 years of age. He suggested that many of the difficulties a second language learner has with the phonology, vocabulary and grammar of L2 are due to the interference of habits from L1. The formal elements of L1 are used within the context of L2, resulting in errors in L2, as the structures of the languages, L1 and L2 are different.

Ecke and Herwig (2001) studied multilinguals among adult speakers and concluded that the multilingual subjects tend to rely on linguistic information from nonnative languages that are typologically close to the target language, as psycho typology would predict.

Rivers, 1979; Schmidt & Frota, 1986, concluded that multilinguals rely on nonnative languages typologically more distant from the target language, despite having knowledge of nonnative languages typologically close to the target language.

Poulisse & Bongaerts, 1994, studied bilingual speech production in regard to the use of L1 content or function words in L2 speech as a form of borrowing that speakers employ in order to compensate for their lack of knowledge in the target language. The use of L1 forms in speech is regarded as a compensatory strategy the general argument being that the use of L1 forms occurs because the L2 system is not highly developed and automatized as the native language system.


The method was designed to uncover something of the complexity of language use in a particular sample of language learners and so it had an explicit descriptive purpose.

Subject Selection

20 multilingual subjects were considered in the age range of 21- 22 years of age. Among which 10 subjects were native Kannada speakers and the other 10 subjects were non native Kannada speakers (Malayalam, English and Kannada). No rigid distinction was made between childhood multilinguals and those who had become multilingual later in life. The criteria for selection were a high degree of fluency in both languages; that subjects should use both their languages on a regular, although not necessarily daily basis. Two were childhood multilinguals, who had acquired the languages before the age of five; the others had begun learning the languages at college and had attained a high level of fluency in adulthood.

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to Improve the Communication Skills of Management Students - A Pilot Study

Ms. Deepa M.S.
All India Institute of Speech and Hearing
Mysore - 570006

Ms. Avanthi N.
JSS Institute of Speech & Hearing
Ooty Road
Mysore - 570007

Abhishek B.P.
JSS Institute of Speech & Hearing
Ooty Road
Mysore - 570007

Shyamala Chengappa, Ph.D.
Department of Speech-Language Pathology
All India Institute of Speech and Hearing
Mysore - 570006

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