Error Analysis: Activity 3


One way to predict transfer is to do a contrastive analysis of the native language and the target language; we predict that errors may occur wherever the two systems differ. We begin by contrasting Persian and English phonology to identify possible areas of learner difficulty:

Look at the Persian consonant table below:

Labial Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p  b t   d k   ɡ ɢ [ʔ]
Affricate tʃ      dʒ
Fricative f   v s   z ʃ         ʒ x    ɣ h
Tap ɾ
Trill r
Approximant l j

How do the Persian and English consonant systems differ? One difference is that Persian has a "gh" sound (a voiced fricative / ɣ /) that does not occur in English. We might expect American learners to have trouble with this Persian consonant, substituting the /k/


  1. Look at the video from Pari’s Retell task. Listen to her pronunciation of / ɣ /.

  2. Transcript (click to open):

  3. In the table below, write 7 or 8 words in which she has problem pronouncing this sound. Did the contrastive analysis cause you to predict this error? Could it be transfer from English (see the Interlanguage activity 1)?

  4. Line Pari
    Words w/phonological error: / ɣ /

    Discuss your findings in the box below.

When you have finished typing your answer, click to compare your response with the Learner Language staff response.

Line Pari
Words w/phonological error: / ɣ /
1     væ/k/ti keh
2     ota/k/
9     tæ/k/sir
10     tæ/k/sir
12/13/16     tæ/k/sir
20     væ/k/ti keh
24     væ/k/ti

One of the distinctive variations in Persian consonants is that of "gh". This sound is a voiced fricative, but in its initial and final position it is partially or fully devoiced (Haghshenas, 1998).

Pari replaces "gh"  / ɣ / in the words above with /k/ or /x/.  This happens one time with the word “otagh”, 3 times with “væghti” and 7 times with “tæghsir”. Pari has a problem pronouncing this consonant when it comes after a vowel and is followed by a consonant (mainly voiceless alveolars like /t/ and /s/, we think) or when it occurs at the end of the word. The use of English consonant /k/ instead of Persian / ɣ/ can be attributed to native language transfer since there is no such sound in English and the variation mentioned above holds true with English speakers.


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