Several conventional spelling sequences for morphemes do not conform to letter-sound correspondence rules. One example is the ‘-ed’ spelling for the inflectional morpheme at the end of English past verbs. Previous work has shown a close relationship between children's awareness of grammatical distinctions and their success in learning about this spelling sequence. However, this research was with real verbs and the children's spelling might have been influenced by familiarity with the words. To check this, we devised a task with pseudo-verbs. This is a novel use of pseudo-words, which hitherto have been a tool for testing letter-sound knowledge; here the spellings violated letter-sound relationships and followed a morphological pattern. The children heard passages with a pseudo-verb in the past tense and in other tenses and had to write the pseudo-verb in the past tense. The task contained both regular pseudo-verbs, whose stem was the same in the present and past tense, and irregular pseudo-verbs, which had different stems in the present and the past tense. The children's scores in a grammatical awareness task predicted their use of the ‘-ed’ spelling sequence over a 21 month period. The children also used ‘-ed’ endings significantly more often in regular than irregular pseudo-verbs. We conclude that the use of ‘-ed’ endings for regular verbs reflects a morphological spelling strategy based on children's grammatical awareness.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 29, 2004
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