chapter  8
14 Pages

Reading and Spelling Acquisition and Dyslexia in German

ByKarin Landerl, Verena Thaler

The most striking difference between German and English orthography is that German is characterized by highly predictable grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs), also termed high-feed-forward consistency. The only inconsistent consonant grapheme is v, which is sometimes pronounced /f/ as in Vater and sometimes /v/ as in Vase. Few other graphemes have context-dependent pronunciation, that is, the pronunciation changes from one to another in certain contexts. S is usually pronounced as /s/, but in onset clusters when followed by p or t it is pronounced /∫/ in most German dialects. The grapheme h is pronounced /h/ if it precedes a vowel (e.g., hat), but is silent if it follows a vowel (e.g., mehr). In English, consistency of GPCs for vowels is much lower. This is not the case for German, in which consistency of GPCs for vowel quality is just as high as it is for consonants. A good example is the letter a, which

is consistently pronounced as /a/ in the German words Hand, Hass, Ball, and Garten, whereas the pronunciation is different for each of the English equivalents hand, hate, ball, and garden. Thus, with respect to GPCs, German can be categorized as a shallow orthography.