John R. Skoyles, (1992) Logographic Reading: are we so Different?. Psycoloquy: 3(14) Reading (9)

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Psycoloquy 3(14): Logographic Reading: are we so Different?

Reply to Cassidy on Skoyles on Reading

John R. Skoyles,
Department of Psychology
University College London
London WC1E 6BT


I think Cassidy and I are in agreement on children's logographic reading. However, I maintain that children do not use, or require, letter-to-sound rules as sophisticated as those proposed by Venezky (1970) can be substantiated.


dyslexia, connectionism, development, error correction, reading.
1. I do not see where Cassidy and I disagree on children's logographic reading. I agree that phonological reading follows logographic reading. I mentioned in my prior reply (PSYC 1992) that I had previously proposed this in (Skoyles 1988): "Children pass through several stages in learning to read English. Initially -- often before entering school -- children recognise some frequently occurring words using visual `logographic' characteristics. Most children then quickly learn to use the phonological information present in written words. The limited vocabulary of logographically recognisable word could provide the examples needed to train the phonological network." I think Cassidy and I are in agreement.

2. Cassidy claims that I deny children use abstract letter-to-sound rules and fail to offer an alternative. I certainly deny that they use anything so sophisticated as the rules proposed by Venezky (1970). They have no need to do so because they can use much simpler but more inaccurate "rules" as well as context to overcome the inaccurate pronunciations which will often result. We use context when hearing the pronunciation of words we overhear so why not when we generate pronunciations from letter spellings? There is some evidence that this happens: for example, Pring & Snowling (1986) found that a prime context (e.g., "doctor") aided the pronunciation of pseudohomophones (nonwords that sound like real ones, e.g., "nurce"). Children would have to decode these pseudohomophones phonologically. This suggests that their phonological decoding was aided by their context.

3. Cassidy raises the question of the direction of phonemic awareness. There is no question that reading does affect this: the process is bidirectional (Perfetti, Beck, Bell & Hughes 1987). But the fact that process A can be enhanced by a process B that it initially enhances does not remove the effect of that initial enhancement. Phonemic awareness does aid reading, although more complex things happen later, once prereaders master the rudiments of reading.


Perfetti, C., Beck, I., Bell, L. & Hughes, C. (1987). Phonemic knowledge and learning to read are reciprocal, Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 33, 283-319.

Pring, L. & Snowling, M. (1986). Developmental changes in word recognition: An information-processing account. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 38A, 395-418, (1986)

Skoyles, J. R. (1988). Training the brain using neural-network models. Nature, 333, 401.

Venezky, R. L. (1970). The structure of English orthography. The Hague: Mouton.

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