This study examined the effect of dialect variation on children’s spelling by using devoicing of final /d/ in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) as a test case. In line with the linguistic interference hypothesis, African American 6-year-olds were significantly poorer at spelling the final d of words such as salad than non-African American students after their spelling performance on other parts of the words was statistically taken into account. Specifically, African American students were more likely than non-African American students to produce spelling errors such as salat for salad. Such misspellings were particularly common in African American children who showed higher rates of devoicing when pronouncing the words. African American students did not have more difficulty than non-African American students in spelling the final t of words such as planet. The results suggest that the spellings of some words are particularly opaque for speakers of AAVE and that instruction should take account of this opacity.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 21, 2015
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