The development of phonemic awareness requires perceptual representations of speech that are rich in cues to phonemic information. Moreover, it requires that these perceptual representations persist for an amount of time sufficient for intentional operations. I do not deal here with these memory issues, which are the topic of another contribution in this volume, but I refer to them because they must be integrated in any credible account of how the speech system constrains the development of phonemic awareness.
To conclude with a general comment, it seems that in the last 15 years we have come a long way in describing more precisely the relations between phonological awareness and literacy acquisition, in the direction that Isabelle Liberman had pointed. We are now more sophisticated about studying the cognitive requirements of particular phonological awareness measures and the contribution of articulatory and phonies training to the development of phonological awareness. Further, we will continue to investigate the emergence of phonological awareness and the relation it bears to other phonological processes. Thus, the second issue I have raised has recently become exciting. It had been almost totally ignored heretofore. How, given the special properties of the speech system, are phonemes discovered when we learn the alphabetic code? What are the representations of speech in which we find the traces of phonemes? What is it that we are aware of when we are aware of phonemes?
This work was supported by the Belgian Fonds de la Recherche Fondamentale Collective (Convention 2.4562.86), by the Belgian Ministry of Scientific Policy (Action de Recherche Concertee "Processus cognitifs dans la Lecture"), and the National Incentive Program for Fundamental Research in Artificial Intelligence. The scientific responsibility of the chapter is assumed by the author. Thanks are due to Régine Kolinsky, Carmela Spagnoletti, Susan Brady, and Donald Shankweiler for helpful comments on a former version of the chapter, and to Jesus Alegria, Paul Bertelson and Alain Content for fruitful discussions.
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