General Information


In this strand of the research project, we test the hypothesis that implicitly acquired morphosyntactic and orthographic skills are an essential fundament of a strong proficiency in reading and writing and should be reflected in solid knowledge about the statistical properties of orthography. We assume that spelling errors of more proficient writers are more strongly correlated with the orthographic properties of German words than those of less proficient writers.


Our aim is to investigate relations between spelling errors of beginning writers and orthographic properties of words using manual, automated or semi-automated corpus methods. The properties we examine include orthographic phenomena such as consonant doubling (<Kanne>, <Bett>) or vowel-lengthening <h> (<fahren>) as well as surface features such as n-gram frequencies and orthographic consistency.


For our investigations, we use an existing longitudinal corpus of primary school children’s written texts. We are developing an orthographic annotation scheme which is based on the graphematic theory by Eisenberg (2006), extending other graphematically oriented schemes proposed by Thelen (2010) and Fay (2010). The annotations include information on error types, syllabic and morphological structure, pronunciation and morpheme constancy, which allows for a comprehensive interpretation of each error. Our annotations are partly carried out manually but we are also working on automated procedures. With the help of this scheme, we are going to examine which kinds of spelling errors beginning writers produce and how they relate to the orthographic properties of German words in general.


Eisenberg, P. (2006). Grundriss der deutschen Grammatik Band 1: Das Wort (3rd ed.). Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler.

Fay, J. (2010). Die Entwicklung der Rechtschreibkompetenz beim Textschreiben: Eine empirische Untersuchung in Klasse 1 bis 4. Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang.

Thelen, T. (2010). Automatische Analyse orthographischer Leistungen von Schreibanfängern (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Universität Osnabrück.