A1 Journal article (refereed)
From abugida to alphabet in Konso, Ethiopia : The interplay between script and phonological awareness (2019)

Ahlberg, A. K., Eklund, K., Otieno, S. C., & Nieminen, L. (2019). From abugida to alphabet in Konso, Ethiopia : The interplay between script and phonological awareness. Written Language and Literacy, 22(1), 1-32. https://doi.org/10.1075/wll.00018.ahl

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Ahlberg, Aija Katriina; Eklund, Kenneth; Otieno, Suzanne C.S.A.; Nieminen, Lea

Journal or series: Written Language and Literacy

ISSN: 1387-6732

eISSN: 1570-6001

Publication year: 2019

Volume: 22

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 1-32

Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Publication country: Netherlands

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/wll.00018.ahl

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/66786


This study examines the interplay between phonological awareness and orthography in Konso, a Cushitic language in Southwest Ethiopia. Thirty-two adults reading the Konso abugida but with minimal exposure to alphabetic literacy completed an orally administered phoneme deletion task. The responses were then examined using the minimal edit distance hypothesis (Wali, Sproat, Padakannaya & Bhuvaneshwari, 2009) as a framework for the analysis. The results suggest that the difficulty of a deletion was related to the way the phoneme was represented in the Konso abugida. Content-based error analysis of the incorrect responses gave indications of how Konso abugida readers’ processing of sounds is linked to Konso abugida sound-symbol relationships.

The Konso language community is undergoing a change in their writing system from abugida to alphabetic writing. As abugida symbols primarily denote consonant-vowel sequences, the change requires learning new sound-symbol mappings. By examining Konso abugida readers’ phonemic awareness the study contributes to developing transfer literacy teaching methods from abugida to alphabetic writing in Konso and elsewhere.

Keywords: literacy; Afroasiatic languages; phonology; phonological awareness; writing systems; orthography

Free keywords: Konso; transfer literacy; Cushitic languages; African languages; phonological awareness; phonemic awareness; alphabetic writing system; abugida; orthography

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-02-02 at 10:25