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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

Heath W. Lowry

First Committee Member

Halvor Hanson

Second Committee Member

Robert R. Hopkins

Third Committee Member

Margorie Bruno

Fourth Committee Member

John V. Schippers


This study was designed (1) to identify the phonemic fitness of selected graphemes, or, when necessary, the phonemic interrelationship between graphemes and phonograms, and (2) to develop phonic generalizations based upon this examination. For the study a computerized corpus of 17,211 words was used that was, with minimal modifications, originally developed for the Stanford Spelling Project. The respellings used in the Stanford study were, however, recoded to conform to the initial respellings found in the American Heritage Dictionary. After this recoding was completed, the words in the corpus were reorganized according to their frequency of occurrence. This reorganization enabled the researcher to analyze the high frequency words apart from those of lower frequencies. In addition, the minimal criterion accepted for letters or letter combinations to be considered phonemically fit was that at least 75 percent of the grapheme-phoneme correspondence was to be represented by at most two or, in the case of single vowels, three phonemes or phoneme combinations. A computer was used to get a listing of all of the words found in the corpus that contained specified letters or letter combinations. If phonemic regularity was noted in the listing for any particular grapheme, no further analysis was made. However, if an identified grapheme showed a lack of phonemic fitness, it was examined to determine if certain phonograms or letter combinations accounted for a portion of the irregularity. If such phonograms or letter combinations were found, they were treated apart from the grapheme which was in turn reexamined to determine its phonemic fitness. In all, 116 different graphemes and phonograms were identified that included single and adjacent vowels, vowel phonograms, single and compound consonant graphemes, and consonant related phonograms. Moreover, all but 18 of these were phonemically regular as governed by the objectives and limitations established for the study. Further examination revealed that the greatest number of high frequency words which were found for these 18 irregularities was, with two exceptions, 31. If these infrequent irregularities were excluded, the two primary irregularities that remained for the high frequency words included (1) the nonterminal single vowel o, and (2) the adjacent vowel combination ou (except the phonograms identified for this pair).



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