, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 275-297
Date: 15 Jun 2007

Fitting derivational morphophonology into a developmental model of reading

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Oral language is the foundation on which literacy initially builds. Between early developing oral language skills and fluent reading comprehension emerge several types of metalinguistic ability, including phonological and morphological awareness. In this study, a developmental sequence is proposed, beginning with receptive language followed by phonological awareness, morphological awareness, and a new metalinguistic task measuring oral morphophonological accuracy (MPA), followed by decoding and culminating in reading comprehension. MPA is a measure of accurate primary stress placement in the production of derived words with non-neutral, stress changing suffixes (e.g., -ity). A path analysis with data from 76 third graders was used to evaluate the direct and indirect effects of these variables. The developmental model was confirmed, and a metalinguistic continuum, with MPA emerging after both PA and MA, was supported. Decoding and receptive language were the best unique predictors of reading comprehension. Surprisingly, MPA was more important to decoding than was PA, whereas MA was only indirectly implicated in both decoding and reading comprehension.