Reverse substitution or hypercorrection?

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rhubarb

Member
English England
Hi there - I wonder if anyone knows the correct name for this phenomenon in phonetics/phonology when an L2 speaker of English reverse compensates/substitutes a phoneme. I'd be grateful for some references. I'm sure I read about it somewhere, but can't find the location. I'm referring to when a French speaker, for example, replaces an unvoiced -TH with an /s/ and then - subconsciously - replaces an /s/ in another syllable with a -TH (so it sounds like they have a lisp. Does anyone recognise this? I have a Russian client who is also doing it!
Thanks in advance,
Rhubarb
 
  • Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    It does seem to be a hypercorrection (but I'm not familiar with the term "reverse substitution", so I may be missing something).
    Some English-speakers learning Spanish become so proud of being able to roll their double r's
    that they inappropriately roll their single r's ("Nicarragua", "quierro", etc.)
    Spanish has phonemic contrast between single and double r.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I agree, it is typical hyper-correction. When a phonemic contrast of a foreign language does not matter in your own language, it is difficult to keep them apart, especially when both phonemes occur in close proximity. My English is quite good but expressions like the south are still somewhat of a tongue twister for me and I have to be careful not to say ze thous or something like that. A Greek tourist once asked me on a suburban train in Munich how to pronounce Oberschleißheim . Greek does not distinguish between the sounds of <ß> (=[s]) and <sch> (=[ʃ]) and when she tried to repeat it after I pronounced it to her, she managed to produce all four possible combinations (Oberßleißheim, Oberschleißheim, Oberßleischheim and Oberschleischheim).
     

    TitTornade

    Senior Member
    Hi there - I wonder if anyone knows the correct name for this phenomenon in phonetics/phonology when an L2 speaker of English reverse compensates/substitutes a phoneme. I'd be grateful for some references. I'm sure I read about it somewhere, but can't find the location. I'm referring to when a French speaker, for example, replaces an unvoiced -TH with an /s/ and then - subconsciously - replaces an /s/ in another syllable with a -TH (so it sounds like they have a lisp. Does anyone recognise this? I have a Russian client who is also doing it!
    Thanks in advance,
    Rhubarb
    Hi
    I wouldn't say it is hypercorrection.
    the sounds "th" (thin) or "dh" (that) doesn't exist in French and the closest sounds for us are "s" or "z" (for some people : '"t" or "d" / "f" or "v").
    So "th" and "s" can be considered as the same sounds by a foreign (French) speaker. Sometimes difficult to make a difference between "thin" and "sin" when listening somebody speaking, if the context is not clear. Sometimes difficult to prononce the good sound if not well concentrated on your tongue, when you're a beginner ;-)

    Bernd's example is good for French speakers too : " the south " or " ze thous " ? :)

    The same occur with the sound "h", that doesn't exist in French (actually has no meaning) :
    "He his angry" or " 'e his hangry" or " 'e is hangry" (instead of "he is angry").
     

    jimquk

    Member
    English
    As a native English speaker, to my Mother's horror I grew up pronouncing θ and ð as F and V.

    In my teens I eventually trained myself to the formally correct pronunciation, I remember struggling in church with the phrase "in the name of the father".

    I have occasionally delivered myself of the absolute barbarism θɪʃ for "fish".

    Nowadays my initial ð is more of an interdental stop than a fricative, and there's no /v/ in "of" unless followed by a vowel, which makes things a lot easier!
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wouldn't say it is hypercorrection.
    I agree. Hypercorrection involves misunderstanding a rule and then applying it to produce an incorrect result. A classic one in English is when someone who said "Me and John went to London" was told it should be "John and I went to London" later says "The trip to London was a nice day out for John and I" in the belief that the rule is "Me and John" must always be "John and I".

    I do not think it can be applied where a non-native speaker mispronounces a word because a language distinguishes two phonemes which his own language does not. It is just a mistake of pronunciation.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I have a Russian client who is also doing it!
    Franlkly, I never could quite understand Russians who have any problems with /θ/, at least on the phonological level. It's positively impossible to mix it up with any other English or Russian consonant. Moreover, it perfectly fits the lacuna in the Russian consonant chart (since Russian does have the dental plosives /t/ and /d/, but lacks dental fricatives). It might only result from a long consistent habit of simplifying /θ/ as /s/ while learning English, but that's atrocious even by the Russian school standards, and the spelling would be a constant reminder anyway.

    The vowels - yes, that's a big trouble. But the dental fricatives??
     
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    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Hi there - I wonder if anyone knows the correct name for this phenomenon in phonetics/phonology when an L2 speaker of English reverse compensates/substitutes a phoneme. I'd be grateful for some references. I'm sure I read about it somewhere, but can't find the location. I'm referring to when a French speaker, for example, replaces an unvoiced -TH with an /s/ and then - subconsciously - replaces an /s/ in another syllable with a -TH (so it sounds like they have a lisp. Does anyone recognise this? I have a Russian client who is also doing it!
    Thanks in advance,
    Rhubarb
    I agree with those who said that it isn't hypercorrection (although it has a similarity).

    That case reminded me of something I read in "An introduction to Language" by Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams (2010). Discussing the differences between Chicano English and Standard American English, the book says that in ChE "The affricate /tʃ/ and the fricative /ʃ/ are interchanged, so that shook is pronounced as if spelled with a ch and check as if spelled with an sh."

    But this phenomenon concerns here a lot of people, as opposed to the case of the L2 speaker of English.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Franlkly, I never could quite understand Russians who have any problems with /θ/, at least on the phonological level. It's positively impossible to mix it up with any other English or Russian consonant. Moreover, it perfectly fits the lacuna in the Russian consonant chart (since Russian does have the dental plosives /t/ and /d/, but lacks dental fricatives). It might only result from a long consistent habit of simplifying /θ/ as /s/ while learning English, but that's atrocious even by the Russian school standards, and the spelling would be a constant reminder anyway.

    The vowels - yes, that's a big trouble. But the dental fricatives??
    Most languages lack dental fricatives. That does not on its own make them difficult to articulate or distinguish. What causes the difficulty is that in one language the phones A and B which share a number of features may be distinct phonemes whilst in another language phones A and B may be allophones of the same phoneme or either phone A or B may be missing. If your language has as allophones two sounds which another language has as distinct phonemes you may have difficulty in distinguishing between them. The difference between dental fricatives and alveolar fricatives is the position of the tongue. In dental fricatives it rests on or between the teeth and in alveolar fricatives a little further back on the teeth ridge. If your tongue is not used to going between the teeth (or some other place it does not customarily go) it can be difficult to persuade it to go there or you can be unsure precisely where it should go.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I do think of it as hypercorrection. Dutch lacks dental fricatives completely. They aren't allophones of dental stops. Yet sometimes I do say th instead of t if I am not careful while speaking English. It can only be hypercorrection.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I do think of it as hypercorrection. Dutch lacks dental fricatives completely. They aren't allophones of dental stops. Yet sometimes I do say th instead of t if I am not careful. It can only be hypercorrection.
    There is only one context where I can mix up "t" and "th": in the terms of Greek origin existing both in English and in Russian which I rarely hear in English with my own years (my favourite word of that kind should be "catHegory" :)).
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I do think of it as hypercorrection. Dutch lacks dental fricatives completely. They aren't allophones of dental stops. Yet sometimes I do say th instead of t if I am not careful while speaking English. It can only be hypercorrection.
    I would not say that that is hypercorrection as you are not applying what you think is a rule and producing an incorrect result.

    For native speakers hypercorrection in pronunciation (usually) occurs when the speaker wants to appear "correct". Northern varieties of English lack the phoneme /ʌ/ so that foot and but are both pronounced with the vowel /ʊ/. If a speaker of a northern variety wants to sound as if he speaks a southern variety he will be fine if he pronounces but, cut, gut ,hut, nut and rut with /ʌ/, but slip up if, using those words as a guide, pronounces put with /ʌ/. Someone who regularly drops their aitches will be hypercorrecting if pronounces honest with initial aspiration.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    But, as a matter of fact, you are: except "the rule" is that "they have TH for what I was learning as S".
    It is simply a pronunciation error.

    Here are three definitions I have found of "hypercorrection":
    ·A nonstandard usage resulting from an overly conscious effort to avoid a grammatical error​

    ·A construction or pronunciation produced by mistaken analogy with standard usage out of a desire to be correct

    ·The use of a nonstandard form due to a belief that it is more formal or more correct than the corresponding standard form
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I would not say that that is hypercorrection as you are not applying what you think is a rule and producing an incorrect result.

    For native speakers hypercorrection in pronunciation (usually) occurs when the speaker wants to appear "correct". Northern varieties of English lack the phoneme /ʌ/ so that foot and but are both pronounced with the vowel /ʊ/. If a speaker of a northern variety wants to sound as if he speaks a southern variety he will be fine if he pronounces but, cut, gut ,hut, nut and rut with /ʌ/, but slip up if, using those words as a guide, pronounces put with /ʌ/. Someone who regularly drops their aitches will be hypercorrecting if pronounces honest with initial aspiration.
    As a child, I definitely said "I tink" instead of "I think". I had to teach myself to distinguish both sounds, and sometimes hypercorrectly end up saying too much th. Of course I immediately hear it's wrong, but then it's too late.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As a child, I definitely said "I tink" instead of "I think". I had to teach myself to distinguish both sounds, and sometimes hypercorrectly end up saying too much th. Of course I immediately hear it's wrong, but then it's too late.
    Spanish has two types of "r" which are phonemic between vowels inside a word - pero (with a tap) = "but" and perro (with a trill) = "dog". Speakers of languages which do not make the distinction may have difficulty distinguishing the two. In particular, speakers of varieties of English which have the approximant "r" may (to the amusement of native Spanish speakers) overdo it and go for the trill instead of the tap. When they do it is just a mistake of pronunciation arising from an inability to make the distinction consistently or at all. The same thing was happening when you pronounced /t/ as /θ/.

    However, the position would be different for speakers of some varieties of Irish who regularly replace /θ/ with /t/. If, on the basis that "tink" (written <think>) becomes "think" they pronounce "tin" (written <tin>) as "thin" they are engaging in hypercorrection.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Here are three definitions I have found of "hypercorrection":

    ·A nonstandard usage resulting from an overly conscious effort to avoid a grammatical error​

    ·A construction or pronunciation produced by mistaken analogy with standard usage out of a desire to be correct

    ·The use of a nonstandard form due to a belief that it is more formal or more correct than the corresponding standard form
    We're quite obviously dealing with p.2 here. Although all your definitions seem to concern intralingual hypercorrections only, so the wording isn't most suitable.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    What causes the difficulty is that in one language the phones A and B which share a number of features may be distinct phonemes whilst in another language phones A and B may be allophones of the same phoneme or either phone A or B may be missing.
    And the situation when A and B are allophones (or, more precisely, belong to the possible range of realizations of the same phoneme, like [ɐ] and [ɑ] in Russian - even though the latter sound normally doesn't occur in it at all) is markedly different from the situation when either of them is truly and completely missing (efficiently leaving some sort of lacuna in the chart), which is the point. As a result, the Russian speakers who reproduce TH correctly in correct places often have great difficulties with English vowels nonetheless (take Naval'nyi, for example).
     
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    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Although all your definitions seem to concern intralingual hypercorrections only, so the wording isn't most suitable.
    Hypercorrection is not a purely linguistic term covering a particular type of mistake (by which I mean a failure to conform to the canons of a standard language), but a sociolinguistic term covering a mistake in language made in certain contexts. It has to involve a non-standard form used in a standard language in the belief that the non-standard form is standard resulting from the over-generalisation of a rule, the misapplication of a rule or the application of a rule which the speaker believes to exist but does not.

    Depending on context, a mistake in language may or not not be a case of hypercorrection. If you ignore the social context then you are pretty much saying that all mistakes in language are hypercorrections.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It has to involve a non-standard form used in a standard language
    I wouldn't limit the term to such an extremely narrow field.
    For example, Новый словарь методических терминов и понятий (теория и практика обучения языкам) tells us:
    "Hypercorrection - mechanical use of some prohibitive rule (usually regarding pronunciation), which is motivated by the strife to speak correctly, but produces incorrect results when trying to correct one's speech." Note that here it's used specifically in regard to learning foreign languages.
     
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