Research Key

The Poor Use of Pronunciation Marks by Contributors in some selected Chariot Newspapers at the University of Buea

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International: $20
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Qualitative method
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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Punctuation is an imperative part of English Language learning in terms of comprehending written English and increasing intelligibility. However, it is often seen as a minute but difficult area for learners of English to have a successful mastery of it. Thus, this literature review presents an overview of various punctuation marks in English, their importance in writing and specific issues that students who contribute to the Chariot Newspaper encounter.

This work set out to describe the way contributors of the chariot newspaper tend to place punctuation on words as well as sentences with regard to written English. Additionally, the review discusses and critiques the poor acquisition of punctuation misused in words and sentences found in the Chariot Newspaper and thus provide theoretical knowledge for learners to incorporate into their study of punctuation marks in English.

To achieve this, data was collected through quantitative and qualitative instruments where two monthly published Chariot Newspapers were used. The data was analyzed using tables, whereby sentences and short texts were used to sort out the errors where punctuation marks were misused and their corrections.

Hence, the results of the investigation revealed that students who contribute to the Chariot Newspaper tend to consider that punctuation is simple with regards to perception and so used it poorly.’

This study, therefore, solemnly recommends that the teaching and learning of punctuation marks to contributors of the Chariot Newspapers especially, be revisited, understood and uphold in all language backgrounds as it is squarely indispensable to the English Language as a whole.



Background of the Study

Mastering a language entails four language skills which are listening, speaking, reading and writing. The child learns to listen, speak and read before he is capable of writing down something that he or she can understand. Language is first spoken by people who use it to communicate with each other by words of mouth in which they talk and listen to themselves before they are able to write.

Punctuation is a minute but very significant concept of English grammar, that cannot be neglected in any way because the wrong use of punctuation in sentences can distort or partially alter the sense or meaning of the sentence. The word ‘punctuation’ is derived from the Latin word ‘punctum’ which means the use of putting in ‘points’ or ‘stops’ in writing in order to increase readability.

Punctuation began as an art of oratory which lies in classical rhetoric. Back in Ancient Greece and Rome, when a speech was prepared in writing, marks were used to indicate where and for how long a speaker should pause. These pauses (and eventually the marks themselves) were named after the sections they divided. The longest section was called the period defined by Aristotle as, ‘’a portion of a speech that has in itself a beginning and an end”.

The shortest pause was a comma (literally that which is cut off) and midway between the two was a colon (‘a limb’), ’a strophe’, or ‘a clause.’ In marking the beat, the three marked pauses were sometimes graded in a geometric progression, with one beat for a comma, two for a colon and four for a period.

Bolton observes in Living Language (1988) ‘such marks in oratorical scripts began as a physical necessity but needed to coincide with the phrasing of the piece, the demands of emphasis and other nuances of elocution.’ With the introduction of printing in the late 15th century, punctuation in English was decidedly unsystematic and at times virtually absent. Many of Chaucer’s manuscripts, for instance, were punctuated with nothing more than a period at the end of verse lines, without regard for syntax or sense.

Similar to this view, Caxton (1420-1491) England’s first printer used his favourite mark forward slashes (also known as solidus, virgule, oblique, diagonal and virgule suspensiva) as a forerunner of the modem comma. Some writers of this era also relied on double slashes to signal longer pause or the start of a new section of text.

Also the playwright lonson (1640) two pricks (:) who was one of the first to codify the rules of punctuation in English included the colon (he called it the ‘pause’ or ‘two pricks’) in his signature. In the final chapter of English Grammar, he briefly discusses the primary functions of a comma, parenthesis, period, colon, question mark [the interrogation] and exclamation point (the admiration).

The comma represents the shortest pause, the semicolon represents a pause that double that of a comma, the colon double of the semicolon and a period double that of a colon. By the end of the 19th century, grammarians had to come to de-emphasize the role of punctuation by defining it as: ‘the art of dividing written discourse into sections by means of points for the purpose of showing the grammatical connection, dependence and making sense more obvious.’

Despite the relative lack of research in this area, it is evident that the use of punctuation presently has given much pretty way to the syntactic approach which has increased the acquisition of second language learners of English. And so it remains true as G.V Carey observed decades ago, that punctuation is governed two-third by rules and one-third by personal taste.

For this reason, the present research will contribute to this understudied area of L2 acquisition by given possible rules to follow in studying the use of punctuation in English chariot newspapers.

Statement of the Problem

Contemporary learners of English find themselves wanting with regard to the use of punctuation in sentences found in the Chariot Newspapers. This is realized from their articles during their writing sessions. This situation is alarming to the extent that it seems as if punctuation can be placed at any point in sentences without following its rules.

Thus, this is almost becoming a culture in which students do not even know how to punctuate sentences in the Chariot Newspapers. As a result of this, readers sometimes fail to understand the message the way the writer or editor intended it to be. This results in sentence fragments and run-on sentences.

English like many other languages differs when punctuation is used. English punctuation is governed by rules given by scholars who consider it as a guide to aid its learners during communication. The question one can ask is: “How do students who contribute in the Chariot Newspapers use punctuation in their newspapers,” which is what this study is aimed at finding.

Objectives of the Study

The main objectives of this research are;

To find out how punctuation is being misused in the Chariot Newspapers.

To demonstrate the degree to which the Chariot Newspapers contributors use punctuation marks.

To evaluate the use of punctuation in the Chariot Newspapers.

The main aim of this research is to examine the effect of punctuation on meaning in the Chariot Newspapers.

Research Questions

This work is based on the following research questions:

  • do contributors of the Chariot Newspaper use punctuation in their newspapers?
  • Do second language learners have a good mastery on the use of punctuation marks?
  • Does the poor use of punctuation mark in the Chariot Newspaper distort the meaning of sentences as well as texts?
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