Phonological and morphological consistency in the acquisition of vowel duration spelling in Dutch and German

Karin Landerl*, Pieter Reitsma

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    In Dutch, vowel duration spelling is phonologically consistent but morphologically inconsistent (e.g., paar-paren). In German, it is phonologically inconsistent but morphologically consistent (e.g., Paar-Paare). Contrasting the two orthographies allowed us to examine the role of phonological and morphological consistency in the acquisition of the same orthographic feature. Dutch and German children in Grades 2 to 4 spelled singular and plural word forms and in a second task identified the correct spelling of singular and plural forms of the same nonword. Dutch children were better in word spelling, but German children outperformed the Dutch children in nonword selection. Also, whereas German children performed on a similar level for singular and plural items, Dutch children showed a large discrepancy. The results indicate that children use phonological and morphological rules from an early age but that the developmental balance between the two sources of information is constrained by the specific orthography.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)322-344
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


    • Cross-linguistic comparison
    • Morphology
    • Spelling acquisition
    • Vowel spelling

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