Process and Acquisition of Written Language
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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This paper reports on the results of a research project in psycholinguistics that studied indigenous Maya children in a town in south-eastern Mexico. On requesting the children (who have scarce formal instruction in Spanish literacy) to write a list of words in their native language (Mayan) and in a second language (Spanish), we discovered a series of graphic and phonological strategies the children use to distinguish between writing in their native language and in Spanish. Maya children work simultaneously on two levels of graphic differentiation. On one hand, they attempt to respect the formal principles of a writing system when writing in Mayan, and in this sense they try to guarantee that their language is written just as any other language (making evident the need to use a graphic system in Mayan). On the other hand, they use unique graphic resources different from those used in Spanish, in an attempt to show that their native language has graphic particularities that distinguish it from other written languages.


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