Applied Psycholinguistics


Beginning to read in Turkish: A phonologically transparent orthography

Banu Öneya1 c1 and Aydin Yücesan Durgunoğlua2

a1 Boğaziçi University

a2 University of Minnesota, Duluth


The purpose of this study was to investigate early literacy acquisition in a phonologically transparent orthography with regular letter-sound correspondences. It was considered that Turkish, with its systematic phonological and orthographic structure, would make different demands on the beginning reader than the languages used in many of the previous studies of literacy acquisition. First grade children were assessed using tests of phonological awareness, letter recognition, word and pseudoword recognition, spelling, syntactic awareness, and listening comprehension at the beginning of the school year. The impact of these factors on the development of word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehension was examined. The results strongly suggest that a phonologically transparent orthography fosters the early development of word recognition skills, and that phonological awareness contributes to word recognition in the early stages of reading acquisition. Once the children's word recognition performance is high, listening comprehension ability distinguishes the different levels of reading comprehension among children. These patterns of results were interpreted as reflecting the phonological and orthographic characteristics of the Turkish language and orthography.


c1 Aydin Y. Durgunoğlu, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812. email: ADURGUNO@D.UMN.EDU