Spelling errors and phonemic segmentation ability: the nature of the relationship

Christopher Holligan, Rhona S. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Poor spellers/readers and younger normal children of similar spelling and reading ability carried out phonemic segmentation and spelling tasks. The poor spellers were impaired relative to controls in their ability to detect the odd word out where the middle or final phoneme of the word differed from that of the other items in the list. For example, in the series ‘dot',‘cot',‘pot', 'bat', the word ‘bat’ differs from the other items in terms of its middle vowel. Spelling errors were classified as being ‘pre‐phonetic',‘phonetic', or ‘transitional’ in character, according to Morris and Perney's (1984) developmental scheme.‘Transitional’ errors indicate a knowledge of English orthography, and are relatively easy for the reader to decode phonetically, for example, green −>‘grene', whereas ‘phonetic’ errors indicate a level of phonetic awareness which is not matched by an ability to represent the word according to the conventions of English spelling, for example green −>‘gren'. Poor spellers were found to make significantly fewer ‘transitional’ errors than controls, there being a non‐significant tendency for them to make more ‘pre‐phonetic’ and ‘phonetic’ errors. It was found that performance on the odd word out task correlated significantly with the occurrence of ‘transitional’ errors, there being no such relationship with ‘phonetic’ errors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-32
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research in Reading
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1991
Externally publishedYes

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