Off-campus WSU users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your WSU access ID and password, then click the "Off-campus Download" button below.

Non-WSU users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rebecca Treiman


There are different types of relationships between the written and spoken forms of words in English. Spellings may involve letter sounds (b - a - t = "bat"), letter names (OK = "okay"), or nonphonetic arbitrary pairs (lb = "pound"). Comparisons across studies suggest that letter names at the beginnings of words have a special status for prereaders when learning to read and spell (Bowman & Treiman, 2002; Treiman & Rodriguez, 1999; Treiman, Sotak, & Bowman, 2001). However, different children participated in the various studies and different letters were used to evaluate performance across conditions. In the present study, prereaders learned to read or spell simplified spellings under four different conditions over a course of 8 learning trials. The same children performed in the name-initial, name-final, control-initial, and control-final conditions using the same target letters in each. Experiment 1 evaluated the reading performance of 32 prereaders using letter-name consonants as the target letters. Using letter-name vowels as the target letter, Experiment 2 evaluated the reading performance of 21 prereaders and Experiment 3 evaluated the spelling performance of 21 prereaders. The results indicated that both consonant and vowel letter names at the beginnings of words enhanced reading performance, supporting the initial-letter hypothesis. However, children used both word-initial and word-final letter name vowels when spelling, providing support for both the vowel salience hypothesis (Uhry & Ehri, 1999) and Frith's multilevel model of literacy development (1985). The lack of a systematic alphabetic relationship between the printed and spoken words influenced prereaders' spelling performance more than their reading performance. During literacy acquisition, children appear to use different strategies based on the position of the relevant information, phonetic characteristics of the letter names, and type of literacy task. Children with limited reading ability benefit from graphemes-phoneme relationships that make sense to them, based on knowledge that they possess---knowledge of alphabet letter names. However, the superiority of letter-name cues varies according to circumstances.

Off-campus Download