Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

Committee Chair

Jonah Katz

Committee Co-Chair

Sandra Stjepanovic

Committee Member

Sandra Stjepanovic

Committee Member

Sergio Robles Puente


In this thesis, I examined why the Yoruba speakers of the English language have difficulty in pronouncing word-initial glottal fricative in English. /h/ dropping and /h/ insertion is not expected as the Yoruba language supposedly have the glottal fricative in its sound inventory. I gave a brief introduction to Yoruba phonetics, a brief history about the contact between English and Yoruba language, and what other researchers have written about the /h/ dropping and insertion phenomenon.

The research question was why the Yoruba-English speakers delete and insert the glottal fricative at the word-initial position. I started by investigating the nature of the Yoruba glottal sound. The result was that the Yoruba language has four variants of the glottal sound. These variants are not contrastive and as such, they are used interchangeably.

I went further to investigate what the Yoruba speakers pronounce when they pronounce the English /h/. I then compared these pronunciations with the American native speaker’s pronunciations. The result from these analyses showed that the Yoruba-English speakers transfer the four variants of the Yoruba glottal sound into English; such that, the native speakers perceive /h/ insertion or /h/ dropping depending on the variant used.

alhaja.mp3 (4166 kB)
participant recordings 1

mj.mp3 (1893 kB)
participant recordings 2

tawlaw.mp3 (1840 kB)
participant recordings 3

Shannon Ballard.m4a (610 kB)
participant recordings 4