Taal en bewustzijn
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Until recently, studies about adults' metalinguistic knowledge nearly always dealt with adult readers. Since explanations about the development of children's metalinguistic knowledge are not conclusive about the influence of either (language) development or experience with written language. Adult illiterates form a nice test case for these contrasting hypotheses, since they are both experienced language users and inexperienced in the written code.Therefore, a research project was carried out to compare the metalinguistic knowledge of adult illiterates with another group of non-readers (young children) and with low-educated adult readers.The research project was carried out with 24 young pre-readers, 25 adult (true) illiterates and 23 adult readers with about four years of schooling. All groups were offered different tests of metalinguistic awareness on the phonological, lexical/semantic and discourse-level of language. Analysis of variance and posthoc analyses showed that, on the whole, there were hardly any differences between young children and all adults in the knowledge of linguistic entities (favouring the developmental hypotheses) while there were many significant differences between the no-nreaders on the one hand (both children and adults) and low-educated literates on the other hand. It is concluded that experience with writing systems plays a major role in triggering metalinguistic knowledge.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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