Akshara-phonology mappings: The common yet uncommon case of the consonant cluster
This study examined the reading and spelling of consonant clusters in Kannada among native speaking Grade 3 children (N = 62). The consonant cluster is represented by a CCV akshara and while the frequency of specific CCV akshara in child-directed texts is medium to very low, the generic akshara type is exceptionally productive and frequently encountered. The CCV akshara is an orthographic syllable that encodes a phonological syllable in a matched mapping of akshara-to-phonology, but within a word, can also encode other phonological information depending on neighbouring syllables. The study tested whether children are supported better when akshara-phonology mapping is matched and whether error patterns differ when reading and when spelling words with matched and mismatched mappings. The results showed that awareness of the principles of akshara-phonology mapping appears to be available early in literacy acquisition in Kannada, yet there are word level differences in children's awareness of these principles and mismatched mappings are more vulnerable to error. The results are used to discuss orthographic learning in akshara languages. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.