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What is Orthographic Mapping? Part 1



Orthographic mapping is the process of representing words in written form, specifically in regard to how they are written in a language's orthography. This is an important concept in the fields of linguistics, psychology, and education, as it helps to understand how people process written language and how it can be taught to learners.


There are several factors that influence orthographic mapping, including the phonology of a language (how its sounds are organized) and its orthography (how its sounds are represented in written form). For example, English has a relatively simple phonology but a complex orthography, with many words having silent letters and multiple ways to spell the same sound. This can make it difficult for English learners to learn how to read and write, as they need to memorize the various spellings of sounds rather than simply learning to match sounds with symbols.


In contrast, languages with a more phonemic orthography (such as Italian or Spanish) tend to be easier for learners to read and write, as the relationship between sounds and written symbols is more straightforward. This is because each letter in these languages typically represents a single sound, and there are fewer silent letters and alternative spellings to remember.


Orthographic mapping can also be influenced by the way words are written in a language. In English, for example, words are typically written left to right, with each word being separated by a space. This makes it relatively easy for readers to identify where one word ends and the next begins. In languages like Chinese, on the other hand, characters are typically written from top to bottom and right to left, which can make it more challenging for learners to process written language.


Overall, orthographic mapping plays a crucial role in how we process and learn written language. It is important for educators to understand these factors in order to effectively teach reading and writing to learners, and for linguists and psychologists to study how orthographic mapping affects language processing and learning.

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