What good is orthographic redundancy?

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One of the most widely respected features of English orthography is its sequential redundancy. Its psychological reality is evidenced by the relative ease with which good readers can encode sequentially redundant nonwords as compared to arbitrary strings of letters. Its psychological importance is implicated by evidence that this advantage is generally depressed or absent among poor readers. A knowledge of orthographic redundancy facilitates the encoding of the identities and the order of letters in orthographically regular strings. Automatic preliminary syllabification is mediated by the reader's knowledge of orthographic redundancy. Orthographic redundancy is an essential property of our written language and the primary domain of its utility is in the reading of multisyllable words. Written English is a three-tiered system: it is at once an alphabet, a logography, and a syllabary. This insight adds meaning to our knowledge that logographies and syllabaries have not, in history, been abruptly displaced by alphabetic scripts, but instead, have evolved gradually into them. (HOD)

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  • Marilyn J. Adams

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