English orthography as a resource for learners of English

Authored by: Wayne B. Dickerson

The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary English Pronunciation

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138856882
eBook ISBN: 9781315145006
Adobe ISBN:


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Opinions about English orthography range from those who want to start over with a new alphabet (Ivins, 1947) to those who believe that it already comes remarkably close to being optimal for English (Chomsky & Halle, 1968, p. 49). Where does reality lie? Today’s ESL teachers still ask this question and wonder, in particular, if English orthography can help their students with pronunciation. For their sake, the chapter begins with the principles underlying this orthography. They confirm that English orthography can be a pronunciation resource for learners but that these benefits are accessible only through the use of rules. To illustrate, and to recommend new directions for spelling researchers, the chapter focuses on the spelling-based prediction of word stress, vowel quality and consonant choice.

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