Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 11: 275–280, 1999.
© 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Introduction: Linguistic processes in reading across
Ontario Institute for the Studies of Education, University of Toronto, Canada
This special issue brings together ﬁve research-based articles, concerned in
one way or another with basic reading processes. They utilized different
research methodologies, studied different languages and learners varying in
age and language proﬁciency. The ﬁrst two papers (Durgonoglu & Oney and
Shimron) deal with school children, and the authors explore various aspects
of literacy development in ﬁrst language (L1). The remaining three papers in
the collection all involve adult second language (L2) learners. In spite of this
apparent diversity similar themes underlie this collection. On the whole, they
challenge simplistic universalistic notions about reading development, read-
ing processes and the nature of the relationships among different linguistic
and reading components. The authors call for a more careful examination of
the role of linguistic processes in reading, and propose that in order to better
understand the factors which are implicated in ﬂuent reading, it is necessary
to consider how the interaction of characteristics of the spoken language with
characteristics of the orthography might affect literacy development.
The Webster Dictionary (1984) deﬁnes what a ‘word’ is in terms of a
combination of the following spoken and written language conventions:
(a) i. a speech sound or a series of speech sounds that symbolizes a mean-
ing without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use;
ii. the entire set of linguistic forms produced by combining a single base
with various inﬂectional elements without change in the part of speech
elements; (b) i. a written or printed character or combination of charac-
ters representing a spoken word; ii. any segment of written or printed
discourse ordinarily appearing between spaces . . .
Interestingly, with a few exceptions (e.g., Assink & Kattenberg 1994; Bryant
& Nunes 1998; Chitiri & Willows 1994; Fayol, Thevenin, Jarousse &
Totereau 1998; Hanson 1995; Koriat & Greenberg 1996) the study of word
recognition processes has focused largely on the interface of parts a-i. and
b-ii. of the deﬁnition of ‘word’. Whether they study cross-orthography or