Journal directory listing - Volume 21-30 (1976-1985) - Volume 27 (1982)

An Analysis of the Pronunciation of Teachers of the Chinese Language in Singapore
Author: Hsiao Yu Chang, Low Siang Chee, Lee Yee Sing(Department of Chinese College of Liberal Arts)


The "dialects spoken by Chinese in Singapore are varied and complicated Among them are Fukien, Chiaochow, Cantonese, Hannai and Hakka dialects. In recent years, the government of Singapore has launched a campaign of Chinese language teaching. The pronunciation of the Singaporean Chinese is found to have suffered from the interference of different dialects. Therefore, the Ministry of Education of Singapore felt that a program to upgrade the quality of Chinese language teachers was urgently needed. To attain this goal, the first step was to undertake an analysis as to how far the Chinese teachers were influenced by their dialectical background. The result of this analytical survey would be used as a reference for the improvement of Chinese language teaching.
In October 1980, Singapore's Ministry of Education and Institute of Educa-tion jointly put forth an advanced program of Chinese Phonetics for Chinese language teachers. In cooperation with Mr. Low Siang Chee and Mdm. Lee Yee Sing, I undertook a survey in which 79 students of the first group of the Chinese Phonetics for Chinese Language Teachers (CPCLT) program answered our question-naires. The 79 persons were themselves teachers of Chinese language of primary schools and pre-school classes. Among them 29 spoke Fukienese, 20 spoke Chiaochow dialect, 18 Cantonese, 6 Hainal dialect, 2 Hakka dialect. Those who spoke Hainan and Hakka dialects were less than representative, and therefore not considered for the survey. The number of students surveyed was reduced to 71. They represented speakers of Fukienese, Chiaochow dialect, and Cantonese.
Our survey began with the recording of the 71 teachers, who spoke dialects, before they received formal training of the program, in order to preserve the language (dialect) they used to speak. From the recording we found out some words and phrases whose initial consonants, final vowels and tones were easily mis-pronounced. To examine and analyze the mistakes made by them, we listened to the recording and took note of the mistakes on a specially designed sheet according to their initial consonants, final vowels and tone. Based on the theory of pronuncia-tion, we tried to figure out (1) their corresponding homologues, (2) the change of sound in ancient and modern times, and (3) the structure of Chinese characters. These three elements served as the basis for checking out the causes of mistaken pronunciation.
The findings of this survey are categorized into three groups: those of initial consonants, of final vowels, and of tone. Recommendations and suggestions are given for reference in the concluding chapter.

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