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AN ANALYSIS OF ENGLISH LEXICAL STRESS PATTERNS BY PASHTUN ESL LEARNERS
This research study investigates the lexical stress patterns and stress-related errors in the pronunciation of the Pashtun English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. The subjects selected for this study were sixty students of undergraduate level, studying in the Department of English, University of Malakand, Pakistan. The subjects were asked to read the list of words and sentences that contained the sample words with various number of syllables and stress positions. In order to find out the patterns used and deviations committed by the subjects in pronunciation with respect to the English lexical stress, the researcher selected one hundred and fifty disyllabic and tri-syllabic words commonly in use at this level. The words were divided into five groups in terms of the number of syllables and the position of stress in the words. The participants’ performance was recorded through a mic connected to a laptop and the audios were analyzed through the PRAAT software. After analyzing the data, it was found that the subjects put stress mostly on the second syllable in all the disyllabic words and on the third and sometimes on the second syllable in the tri-syllabic words. In addition, the subjects mostly used the acoustic feature of intensity to determine stressed syllables in the words. The results also revealed that these deviations were committed because of the differences of the stress-patterns of the Pashtu and English languages and the interference of the learners’ mother tongue in their target language (English). The researcher suggests that the learners should be exposed to the native speakers of English and should be made aware of the lexical stress patterns of English to overcome the problems they face with regard to the lexical stress of the English language.