Engrish: A Study of Japanese L1 Interference in L2 English

UNCP Author/Contributor (non-UNCP co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matthew G. Kroll (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
Web Site: http://www.uncp.edu/academics/library
Kay McClauch

Abstract: 'Engrish' is not a joke. Though it has been played for comedy for decades, the collective body of L2 English errors by native Japanese speakers known as 'Engrish' deserves serious attention by ESL and EFL instructors. 'Engrish' is presented as an expression of L1 interference that impedes L2 attainment.First, L1 interference--or negative L1 transfer as it is also known--is explained along with its relation to the three major movements in crosslinguistic studies in the past fifty years: Contrastive Analysis, Error Analysis, and Performance Analysis. Evidence of L1 interference in action is then presented through multiple studies into the phenomenon. The study relates are analyzed and synthesized and in the final calculus, L1 interference is proven to be a significant factor in the course of Second Language Acquisition.The phonetic, phonological and orthographic issues of 'Engrish' are then explored. With its rigid phonotactic constraints and its phonetic orthography, Japanese has many points of conflict with English. English loanwords in Japanese are presented as examples because the same patterns tend to characterize the spoken and in some ways the written aspects of 'Engrish'.The morphosyntactic issues of 'Engrish' are explored next. While there are many syntatic and morphological similarities between English and Japanese, there are also a number of significant differences that can prove to be a source of difficulty for Japanese L2 English learners.While this paper is primarily descriptive, attention is paid to some potential corrective strategies ESL and EFL instructors can employ in the classroom to help their native Japanese learners to overcome 'Engrish' and meet their English proficiency goals. Strategies are divided between the phonetic/phonological issues of 'Engrish' and the morphosyntactic issues of 'Engrish'.'Engrish' is ultimately deemed a natural part of English acquisition for native Japanese speakers, as L1 interference itself is a natural part of the Second Language Acquisition process. That being said, understanding the patterns that constitute 'Engrish' can be a great benefit to ESL/EFL instructors seeking compensatory strategies. This understanding can also be applied to some degree to other forms of L1 interference as well, such as the 'Chinglish' of Chinese students and the 'Konglish' of Korean students.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
English, Language, L1 Interference, ESL, EFL, Instructors, Comedy, Engrish, Second Language Acquisition, L1, L2

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