Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 10: 51–74, 1998.
1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Pinch my wig or winch my pig: Spelling, spoonerisms and other
FRANCES A. ALLYN & JENNIFER S. BURT
The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Abstract. Phonological processing skills have often been assumed to play a minimal role
in skilled adult spelling despite evidence showing their importance in the development of
spelling skills. The present study investigated the relationship between phonological aware-
ness and spelling in adults. It was hypothesised that subjects demonstrating higher levels of
spelling proﬁciency would also show superior phonological processing skills. This relation-
ship was expected to be mediated by sound-spelling mapping knowledge. Given the irregu-
larities of sound-spelling correspondences in English, it was also predicted that knowledge
of orthographic conventions would be related to spelling competency. Two measures of each
component skill were used on seventy three university students. As predicted, the importance
of spelling-sound mapping skills in spelling were demonstrated, as was a relationship between
phonological awareness and spelling-sound correspondences. In addition a moderate correla-
tion was found between orthographic tasks and spelling performance. It was concluded that,
among university students at least, phonological ability makes an important contribution to
skilled adult spelling.
Key words: Adults, Morphology, Orthography, Phonology, Spelling
Children and adults alike encounter difﬁculties with spelling in the English
language asa consequence of irregularitiesbetween spelling-sound mappings.
A considerable amount of research has focused on the skills and processes
utilised in children’s acquisition of spelling knowledge, yet little information
is available concerning ongoing spelling difﬁculties encountered by literate
adults. Current research favours orthographic knowledge as a differentiator
of good and poor spelling in adults, while developmental studies illustrate
the signiﬁcance of phonological skills in acquiring and developing spelling
ability. The present study contributes to the emerging theoretical base on adult
spelling processes by investigating the interrelationships between phono-
logical processing skills, orthographic knowledge, and skilled adult spelling.
Of particular interest is the potential role of phonological abilities beyond the
The link between phonological processing skills and spelling extends
largely from the body of knowledge concerned with the processes involved