Spelling design for the needs and abilities of READERS
What sort of spelling could be user frendly for everyone - readers, writers and learners?
Most readers of English today read poorly, read little and do not
enjoy reading. This dislike has been aquired during the troublesome
business of lerning present spelling, by whatever method. So many
just guess and misread awkward words and miss the sense - hence the
popularity of the literacy theory that all readers reconstruct what
they read, rather than try to understand what the writer is trying to
Readers need a spelling system that allows them to use faster and more accurate reading strategies and that gives them more pleasure in less effortful reading.
What features of a spelling system help readers?
When words have no excess letters, they are streamlined, and their structure becomes more visible and the text more compact - easier to skim acuratly and to recollect visually. Consonant-vowel-consonant sequences are more visualy distinctiv, with their patterns of ascenders and descender, than strings of vowels or consonants.
A consistent spelling system makes new words imediatly decodable, and this imediate decodability is a back-up to ensure accurate recognition of familiar words.
Morfemes, units of meaning, can be clearer when vowel spellings are moderated by their medial or final position, e.g. PLAYBOY not PLAIBOI.
Frequent interruptions of print by apostrofes and similar diacritics can disrupt fluent silent reading - as they can signal pauses in oral reading. The least intrusiv are grav accents, cedillas and dots. Readers can use them or ignore these according to need for aid in pronunciation or word recognition. This is a matter to consider in relation to one of the greatest problems to consider in English spelling design - the close relationship of long and short vowels which can interchange within word families, so that a single letter for both sounds, but with one accented, would retain the morfeme.
by readers of present spelling. A clean-up of present English spelling would require minimum adaptation, compared to spelling reform that brought in a new system of any kind.
Readers who develop poor reading strategies while learning can be permanently handicapped. The less trouble caused the spelling of the writing system, then it can be expected that the more likely that reading strategies can develop unhampered by quirks and built-in hesitancies, problems of recognition of less familiar words, and slow decoding or pot-luck guessing from context of unfamiliar words. Poor readers are more likely to have to backtrack to check their accuracy or to remember the sense, if an alphabetic writing system does not adequately support short-term auditory memory.Now see Design of spelling for writers
Back to Spelling Index Page
Further pages on spelling:
Introduction to spelling improvement. Text of a radio broadcast
2 Needs and abilities of users and learners: -
i. Needs and abilities of readers
4 Improving English spelling
5. Spelling as an entertainment