Background: Most of the evidence explaining the language-literacy link is derived from children learning to read and write alphabetic orthography. Aim: This study investigated the literacy deficits in children learning to read Kannada, a Dravidian language that employs an alphasyllabary. Methods: A group of 15 children with language impairment (CwLI) was compared with two groups of control (age- and language-matched) participants on a range of literacy measures. Results: The results showed that, compared to the age-matched group, the CwLI group performed significantly poorer on reading (words and nonwords) and written spelling tasks. However, the performance on akshara (the written symbol in the alphasyllabary) recognition task was comparable between groups. Similarly, comparison of the CwLI group with the language-matched control group revealed poorer performance in the former group on most literacy measures but not the akshara recognition task. Akshara recognition emerged as the most significant predictor of literacy performance in children learning to read and write the Kannada alphasyllabary. Detailed analyses of the written spelling errors unveiled several unique error types in the language-impaired group. Conclusion: The findings of our study revealed both orthography-independent and orthography-dependent deficits in the literacy skills of CwLI mastering the Kannada alphasyllabary.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing
- LPN and LVN