The focus of the second section is the emergence of phonological awareness in the young child. The contributions raise questions about the conditions for the developmental progression from awareness of syllabic units to awareness of phonemic segments. In the seminal research on this issue, Liberman, Shankweiler, Fischer, and Carter ( 1974) documented that many 4-year-old children were able to perform a syllable counting task, whereas none could do phoneme counting. For 5- and 6year-olds accessing syllables continued to be easier, but performance on the phoneme task showed marked improvement with age.
In the lead chapter for this section, Treiman and Zukowski note that most subsequent research on the development of awareness has also compared syllables and phonemes, in keeping with a linear view of syllable structure (i.e., that the syllable is a string of phonemes). They propose an alternative hierarchical organization in which onsets and rimes constitute linguistic units intermediate between syllables and phonemes. Accordingly, they hypothesize that onsets and rimes should be harder to access than syllables, but easier than phonemes, and that development of awareness progresses from larger units to smaller ones. Their findings support this view. Using a word comparison task (i.e., "are there any sounds in common in these two words?"), they found that preschoolers were able to