The influence of the first script on spelling in a second script

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Many people who immigrate to the Netherlands have problems with writing Dutch. Among the biggest groups coming to our country in the last years are people from Syria and Eritrea. Most of them are well able to write in their own Arabic (Syria) or Ge’ez script (Eritrea), but they are less familiar with the Latin script. In this thesis the effect of the first scripts of mother tongue speakers of Arabic and Tigrinya on their spelling abilities was investigated. The aim was to find out whether the mistakes that these people made could be explained from the characteristics of their first script. A dictation test was created for them that included Dutch words and non-words with elements that were expected to cause difficulty. The test revealed that Syrians more often omitted vowels than Eritreans, which can be explained from the practice of vowel omission in Arabic. Eritreans had more difficulty with consonant clusters, which do not exist in their syllable-based script with syllables that have a CV structure. They performed similarly on a difficult spelling element where no effect of their first script was expected. Eritreans generally seemed to have more difficulty with transposing the overheard words to letters, which is interpreted as a difference in phoneme awareness. It is assumed that Eritreans may be less aware of the phonemes, because their first script has a courser granularity than Dutch. Extra class instructions that focus on the differences between the first and the second script are suggested as a solution to improve the writing products of Syrians and Eritreans.
Faculteit der Letteren