Akshara Processing in Telugu Depends on Syllabic and Phonemic Sensitivity: Preliminary Evidence from Normal Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Children
The long-held view that most Brahmi-derived Indic scripts are prototypically alpha-syllabaries as well as a more recent proposal that these scripts are functionally alphabetic in terms of how they are read, have met with challenges in recent years. A consensus seems to be emerging about the idea that cognitive processes involved in beginning reading cannot be adequately understood without reference to sub-lexical processing that draws on language-specific syllable structures, and the extent of phonological information coded in the script. The research reported in this chapter deals with Telugu akshara processing abilities of 15 normal-hearing, and 15 hearing-impaired children. They were assessed using three specially designed tasks: akshara substitution, akshara deletion, and adding length marker to the vowel within one of the aksharas of target words. All three tasks made use of meaningful printed Telugu words. Both groups found deletion task more difficult than substitution task. All the children exhibited considerable phonemic sensitivity in the task requiring them to attach a vowel length marker to vowel in the first akshara of each target word. However, they scored poorly in making lexical decisions. These results are discussed in the light of sonority principles, and characteristic features of graphic syllables associated with Telugu writing system. Implications for the assessment and literacy instruction are discussed briefly.
KeywordsAkshara Alphasyllabary Brahmi-derived scripts Sonority Telugu
I am grateful to all the children who provided the data discussed in this chapter and to their parents and teachers for extending cooperation during data-collection and training phase. This research was supported by a grant from the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi under their Research Award scheme.
- Clements, G. N., & Keyser, J. (1983). CV phonology: A generative theory of the syllable. Cambridge, MA: The MIT press.Google Scholar
- DALI. (2015). Dyslexia assessment for languages of India. Manesar, India: N.B.R.C.Google Scholar
- Duggirala, V. (2012). Linguistic awareness and hearing impairment in Telugu children: Perspectives on assessment and training. Saarbrücken, Germany: Lambert Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
- Ghatage, A. M. (Ed.). (1964). Phonemic and morphemic frequencies in Hindi. Pune, India: Deccan College.Google Scholar
- Hill, E. C. (1991). A primer of Telugu characters. New Delhi, India: Manohar Publications.Google Scholar
- Joanisse, M. F. (1999). Exploring syllable structure in connectionist networks. Paper presented at the 14th international congress of phonetic sciences, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
- Kaefer, T. (2016). Integrating orthographic and phonological knowledge in early readers: Implicit and explicit knowledge. Child Development Research, 2016, 1. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/6036/29.
- Krishnamurti, B., & Gwynn, J. P. L. (1985). A grammar of modern Telugu. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Nakamura, P. R., Joshi, R. M., & Ryan Ji, X. (P.C.). Investigating the asymmetrical roles of syllabic and phonemic awareness role in akshara processing. Unpublished paper.Google Scholar
- Patel, P. G. (2007). Akshara as a linguistic unit in Brahmi scripts. In P. G. Patel, P. Pandey, & D. Rajgor (Eds.), The Indic scripts: Paleographic and linguistic perspectives (pp. 167–213). New Delhi, India: DK Print World.Google Scholar
- Purushothama, G. (1994). A framework for testing Kannada reading. Mysore, India: CIIL.Google Scholar
- Ramaswami, N. (1999). Common linguistic features in Indian languages: Phonetics. Mysore, India, CIIL.Google Scholar
- Rao, U. M. (Ed.) (2006). An analysis of the Telugu corpus: Some preliminary findings. Unit-VII. Corpus linguistics: PG Diploma in Computer Applications in Indian Languages (PGDCAIL) 421 (pp. 125–161). Hyderabad, India: University of Hyderabad.Google Scholar
- Sailaja, P. (1999). Syllable structure of Telugu. Paper presented at the International Conference of Phonetic Sciences 14 (ICPhS) held at San Francisco, CA. Retrieved from: https://www.internationalphoneticassociation.org/icphs-proceedings/ICPhS1999/papers/p14_0743.pdf
- Salomon, R. (2000). Typological observations on the Indic script group and its relationship to other alphasyllabaries. Studies in Linguistic Sciences, 30(1), 87–03.Google Scholar
- Sastry, J. V. (1972). Telugu phonetic reader. Mysore, India: CIIL.Google Scholar
- Share, L. D. (2014). Alphabetism in reading science. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00752.
- Vasanta, D. (2014). Phonological knowledge: Theoretical and clinical considerations In D. Vasanta (Ed.), Clinical applications of phonetics and phonology. Monograph of the Indian speech and hearing association 14:1 (pp. 1–47).Google Scholar
- Vasanta, D., & Sailaja, P. (1998). Word awareness and word formation: A study of compound noun production and segmentation by Telugu children. In B. Vijayanarayana & C. Ramarao (Eds.), Word formation in Indian languages (pp. 35–51). Hyderabad, India: Book Links Corporation.Google Scholar
- Vasanta, D., & Sailaja, P. (1999). Making sense of compound nouns: A study of word relatedness in Telugu. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 28(4), 331–346.Google Scholar
- Vennemann, T. (1988). Preference laws for syllable structure and the explanation of sound change. Berlin, Germany: Mouton.Google Scholar