Some Thoughts on the Relation Between Language, Dialect, and Literacy

Bernard Spolsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Teaching reading involves showing the complex relationship between the written language and the spoken. This is easier when the writing system represents the spoken variety exactly; it is harder in a case like Hebrew where normal writing omits most vowels, and in a case like Modern Standard Arabic which is very different from the spoken varieties; Chinese too is made difficult by the fact that characters need to be learned individually. In Chinese too, the written language is associated with Mandarin and not with the seven other mutually incomprehensible topolects. Difficulty is also associated with the gap between the written variety, usually in the standard language, and the dialects that children grow up speaking. But digital technology is starting to help overcome these difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Literacy in Diglossia and in Dialectal Contexts
Subtitle of host publicationPsycholinguistic, Neurolinguistic, and Educational Perspectives
EditorsElinor Saiegh-Haddad, Lior Laks, Catherine McBride
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-80072-7
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameLiteracy Studies (LITS)
ISSN (Print)2214-000X
ISSN (Electronic)2214-0018


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