Spelling and Reading Words in Bengali: The Role of Distributed Phonology

  • Shruti SircarEmail author
  • Sonali NagEmail author
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 17)


Bengali orthography is only moderately transparent, and there are several striking instances of phonology-orthography and orthography-phonology inconsistency. In this chapter, we show that an index of advancing skills in Bengali word reading and spelling is knowledge of word level phonology. In particular, we show that in the early grades, an important task is to learn to read and spell words where phonological information is distributed across the word, neutralized or elided. While phonological neutralizations impact spelling more than reading, some forms of phonology-akshara mapping and non-linear arrangements in complex akshara impact both reading and spelling.


Bengali Spelling Reading Consonant clusters Distributed word level phonology Inherent vowel Phonology-akshara mapping Phonological neutralizations Orthographic representation 



This study was funded by a Seed Grant from The Promise Foundation to the first author and supported by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Kolkata. We thank the Principals, teachers and children of the five participating children and their teachers, and the research assistants: Syed Saurov, Madhurima Chatterjee, Sulagna Ganguly, Jayeeta Mazumdar, and Dipannita Chakraborty for data collection and data coding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics & Contemporary EnglishSchool of Language Sciences, English and Foreign Languages UniversityHyderabadIndia
  2. 2.Department of EducationUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.The Promise FoundationBangaloreIndia

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