Authors: David L. Share.

Article: On the Anglocentricities of current reading research and practice: the perils of overreliance on an "outlier" orthography..

Publication: Psychological Bulletin (American Psychological Association). 134(4), 584–615 2008 | DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.134.4.584

[Full Text]


In this critique of current reading research and practice, the author contends that the extreme ambiguity of English spelling-sound correspondence has confined reading science to an insular, Anglocentric research agenda addressing theoretical and applied issues with limited relevance for a universal science of reading. The unique problems posed by this “outlier” orthography, the author argues, have focused disproportionate attention on oral reading accuracy at the expense of silent reading, meaning access, and fluency, and have significantly distorted theorizing with regard to many issues-including phonological awareness, early reading instruction, the architecture of stage models of reading development, the definition and remediation of reading disability, and the role of lexical-semantic and supralexical information in word recognition. The dominant theoretical paradigm in contemporary (word) reading research–the Coltheart/Baron dual-route model (see, e.g., J. Baron, 1977; M. Coltheart, 1978) and, in large measure, its connectionist rivals–arose largely in response to English spelling-sound obtuseness. The model accounts for a range of English-language findings, but it is ill-equipped to serve the interests of a universal science of reading chiefly because it overlooks a fundamental unfamiliar-to-familiar/novice-to-expert dualism applicable to all words and readers in all orthographies.


Excerpts from Full Text


To illustratejust how irrelevant accuracy can be in regular orthographies,
consider Cossu’s (1999) report that reading performance in Italian
reached 97.8% in a large normative survey sample in Grade 1,
increasing by Grade 3 to 99.6%. Mean reading speed, in contrast,
decreased from 3.5 s per word in Grade 1 to 2.1 s by Grade 3. In
German (Wimmer, 1993), Dutch (Yap & van der Leij, 1993),
Norwegian (Lundberg & Hoien, 1990), Italian (Zoccolotti et al.,
1999), Greek (Porpodas, 2006), Finish (Lyytinen et al., 2004),
Hungarian (Csepe, 2006), and Hebrew (Breznitz, 1997), even
dyslexics attain high levels of reading accuracy but remain slow.


Standard assessments of word reading ability in English are
typically accuracy based (e.g., Wide Ranging Achievement Test:
Jastak & Jastak, 1984; Woodcock–Johnson–III: Woodcock,
McGrew, & Mathers, 2000; Burt Word Reading Test: Gilmore,
Croft, & Reid, 1981) with a graded list of words discontinued after
a fixed number of errors. In regular orthographies, standard reading measures focus on fluency (e.g., Dutch One-Minute-Test: Brus
& Voeten, 1979; Swedish Wordchains Test: Jacobson, 1993)

The Anglophone preoccupation with irregularity and the problems of reading accuracy may be responsible for the lack of progress on issues of speed and fluency. The single most salient and universal fact about skilled word identification is the remarkable speed and apparent effortlessness of word identification. Yet issues such as reading rate, efficiency, automaticity, and fluency have languished at the periphery of contemporary reading research until recently (see, e.g., Breznitz, 2006; Compton & Carlisle, 1994; Dowhower, 1991; Logan, 1988, 1997; Torgesen, 2002) and have been neglected in classroom instruction (see, e.g., Adams, 1990;Allington, 1983; J. R. Anderson, 1981; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, &
Jenkins, 2001; National Reading Panel, 2000; Zutell & Rasinski,

Tagged as: orthographic depth, orthographies, phonemic awareness, reading fluency, and silent reading fluency


Share D. L. (2008). On the Anglocentricities of current reading research and practice: the perils of overreliance on an “outlier” orthography. Psychological bulletin, 134(4), 584–615.

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