Comparative Optimality Theory Analysis of Primary Stress Assignment in Standard British and Nigerian English

Gideon S. Omachonu 1
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1Nasarawa State University

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This work presents a comparative optimality account of primary stress assignment in Standard British English (SBE) and Nigerian English (NE), particularly from the point of view of Igala users of English as a second language. Data for this study included ready- made exercises and already recorded cassettes, which deal directly with primary stress assignment in SBE. This is in addition to the researcher’s knowledge of these varieties of English, his choice of a native speaker of SBE as a language helper as well as useful pieces of information collated using wordlists. The method for elicitation of segments was mainly perceptual. The study has demonstrated how the constraint ordering in Standard British English is ‘naturally’ re- ordered in Nigerian English observing that the different constraint orderings notwithstanding, these constraints are the same, and are present in each of these varieties. It has shown also that Optimality Theory satisfies the requirement that any serious theory of phonology must rely heavily on well-formedness constraints, which means it must be committed to universal grammar, a fact that places the theory at an advantage over its predecessors

Keywords: Phonology; Optimality Theory; Standard British English; Nigerian English



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