Orthography, Phonology, and Reading Development: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective

Authored by: Usha Goswami

Handbook of Orthography and Literacy

Print publication date:  September  2005
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780805846522
eBook ISBN: 9780203824719
Adobe ISBN: 9781136781353


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In this chapter, I attempt to provide a theoretical cognitive description of the connection between phonological awareness and reading development across languages. The sequence of phonological development, which depends largely on speech and language acquisition factors, seems to be similar across orthographies. This is discussed in the first section of the chapter. In contrast, solutions to the 'mapping problem' of how sounds are related to symbols appear to differ among orthographies. When orthographies allow 1:1 mappings between symbols and sounds, children learn to read relatively quickly. When orthographies have a many:one mapping between sound and symbol (feedback inconsistency), or between symbol and sound (feedforward inconsistency), children learn to read more slowly. This is discussed in the second section of this chapter. My basic argument is that the linguistic relativity of orthographic and phonological structures is central to any theoretical description of reading and its development.

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