Original Research

Automaticity in reading isiZulu

Sandra Land
Reading & Writing | Vol 7, No 1 | a90 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v7i1.90 | © 2016 Sandra Land | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 July 2015 | Published: 02 June 2016

About the author(s)

Sandra Land, Adult and Community Education Unit, Durban University of Technology, South Africa


Automaticity, or instant recognition of combinations of letters as units of language, is essential for proficient reading in any language. The article explores automaticity amongst competent adult first-language readers of isiZulu, and the factors associated with it or its opposite - active decoding. Whilst the transparent spelling patterns of isiZulu aid learner readers, some of its orthographical features may militate against their gaining automaticity. These features are agglutination; a conjoined writing system; comparatively long, complex words; and a high rate of recurring strings of particular letters. This implies that optimal strategies for teaching reading in orthographically opaque languages such as English should not be assumed to apply to languages with dissimilar orthographies.

Keywords: Orthography; Eye movement; Reading; isiZulu


Orthography; Eye movement; Reading; isiZulu


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