chapter  11
18 Pages

Beginning Reading Acquisition in Brazilian Portuguese

ByCla´udia Cardoso-Martins

In a completely regular alphabetic writing system, each letter would represent one and only one phoneme, and each phoneme would be represented by one and only one letter. This is hardly the case in the Portuguese writing system. Like English, the Portuguese orthography represents sounds at a morphophonemic level and therefore is not completely regular. For example, it is often the case that the same letter represents more than one phoneme (the letter c, for instance, can represent either the phoneme /k/ or the phoneme /s/). Likewise, the same phoneme is often represented by different letters or graphemes (e.g., the phoneme /s/ can be represented by the graphemes ss, sc, x, c¸, xc, c, z, and s). In most cases, choice of the right grapheme is dictated by contextual rules or morphological and syntactic considerations. In some cases, on the other hand, the choice is totally arbitrary and has to be learned by rote. However, this arbitrariness creates a problem only for spelling. I believe it is fair to say that, for a majority of words, the Portuguese orthography is consistent as far as reading is considered.