In this chapter, I turn from vowel omission errors to consonant omission errors. Consider the child who spelled blow as BOW. This child did not include any letter for /l/. Similarly, the child who spelled tumble as TUBOL failed to represent /m/. In this chapter, I ask when children omit consonant phonemes from their spelling and why they do so. As in Chapter 7, omission errors are defined phonologically rather than orthographically. Thus, the child who spelled thin as TIN symbolized each phoneme in the word’s spoken form, although he did not spell /θ/ in the conventional manner. From a phonological point of view, this child did not make an omission error. The study of consonant omissions is particularly important in light of the claim that beginning spellers often omit the final consonants of monosyllabic words (Morris & Perney, 1984). For example, children may misspell back as B or BA. Why do they do this? Is it because /k/ is the last consonant in the word, because /k/ is the last consonant in the syllable, or for both reasons? To address these questions, it is necessary to look beyond the simple consonant-vowel-consonant monosyllables that have been analyzed in much of the previous research. An examination of more complex words can also shed light on children’s omissions of consonants in clusters, as in BOW for blow. In the present study, consonant omission errors were not as common as consonant substitution errors. Of the children’s spellings of consonants, 7.4% or 800 out of 10,831 were omission errors. In contrast, 13.3% of all consonant spellings were substitution errors. Although the percentage of consonant omission errors was relatively low overall, omissions were quite common for certain consonants. For example, omissions were relatively common for the /l/ of blow and the /m/ of tumble; they were rare for the /l/ of love and the /m/ of milk. When interpreting the omission rates reported in this chapter, remember that the percentages are out of all the children’s spellings—correctly spelled words as well as incorrectly spelled words.
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