A preliminary investigation of akshara knowledge in the Malayalam alphasyllabary: Extension of Nag's (2007) study

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The reading acquisition literature is mainly based on alphabetic orthographies and is largely silent on reading acquisition in alphasyllabic orthographies. In this context, as a preliminary attempt, the present study investigated akshara (orthographic character of alphasyllabary) knowledge in a group of Grade III children learning to read an unexplored alphasyllabary, Malayalam (a Dravidian language spoken in Kerala, India) by extending Nag's study [Nag, S. (2007). Early reading in Kannada: The pace of acquisition of orthographic knowledge and phonemic awareness. Journal of Research in Reading, 30(1): 722]. Specifically, the study investigated participants' knowledge of the following akshara types: (a) consonants with inherent vowels (e.g./ka/); (b) consonants with vowel diacritics (/li/); (c) consonant clusters (e.g./thra/); and (d) vowel in primary form (/i/). The results showed that children master consonants with inherent vowels and vowels in primary form by Grade III. However, they did not attain mastery on consonants with vowel diacritics and consonant clusters. The results are discussed in the light of similar studies in other alphasyllabaries and alphabetic orthographies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-151
Number of pages7
JournalWriting Systems Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28-11-2011


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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