African American english and spelling: How do second graders spell dialect-sensitive features of words?

Nicole Patton-Terry, Carol Connor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    14 Scopus citations


    This study explored the spelling skills of African American second graders who produced African American English (AAE) features in speech. The children (N = 92), who varied in spoken AAE use and word reading skills, were asked to spell words that contained phonological and morphological dialect-sensitive (DS) features that can vary between AAE and print- and dialect-neutral (DN) orthographic patterns that do not. Analyses indicated that all children had more difficulty spelling DS than DN features, especially the regular past-tense inflection. Struggling readers had more difficulty spelling both features, after controlling for differences in AAE use. Children in both groups made few AAE-related errors. A significant, though weak, negative correlation was also found between AAE use and spelling of DS features. The findings indicate that linguistic variation should be considered in the differential diagnosis of spelling disorders among African American children.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)199-210
    Number of pages12
    JournalLearning Disability Quarterly
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Aug 16 2010


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Health Professions(all)
    • Behavioral Neuroscience

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