Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

11 - Behavioral Precursors of Developmental Dyslexia

from Part II - Cross-Linguistic Perspectives on Developmental Dyslexia


Learning to read requires mapping the units of a particular writing system onto its corresponding spoken language units. While such a mapping process is universal to all orthographies, there is considerable variation in (1) the visual characteristics of writing systems (e.g., Chinese, Arabic, Latin-based), (2) the grain size of the spoken language units that are represented by a writing system (e.g., words/morphemes in Chinese vs. phonemes in Western alphabets), and (3) the consistency and regularity of the correspondences between spoken and written language units, which is often called orthographic depth (Katz & Frost, 1992). Shallow orthographies like Finnish represent the sound structure of the spoken language in a highly consistent and transparent way while deep orthographies like English represent deeper linguistic structures (i.e. morphology) rather than the phonological surface structure of words, which makes them rather opaque to the developing reader.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO