Reading has universal properties that can be seen across the worlds writing systems. The most important one is the universal language constraint: All writing systems represent spoken languages, a universal with consequences for reading processes. These consequences are seen most clearly at the broad principle level: the principle that reading universally requires the reader to make links to language at the phonological and morphemic levels. At the same time, the nature of the writing system and the vari- ous orthographies that instantiate it do make a difference for important details of the reading process. Drawing on observations and research from Chinese and Korean, I examine these universal and writing-specific aspects of reading. I also consider the implications of the universal language constraint for learning to read.
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