Perhaps the place to start our detailed discussion of reading is at the beginning of the reading process: the printed (or written) page. A careful analysis of the information contained in the squiggles on the page will help in understanding the task that confronts the reader. In the course of this analysis, we will introduce several linguistic concepts-relating to both spoken and written language-that are necessary for a meaningful discussion of reading. A general discussion of writing systems will also help to put the task of reading English in a broader context.