Keith E. Stanovich Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Richard F. West James Madison University
Anne E. Cunningham University of California, Berkeley
It is appropriate for this particular volume to appear at this time, because Isabelle Liberman will shortly have conferred on her a high scientific honor -- one conferred by the scientific process itself, rather than by formal professional or administrative bodies. It is the honor of having one's conceptual viewpoint become absorbed into the background assumptions of all current theories -- and it is the most profound honor in science.
The evolution of knowledge in the area of reading acquisition is now at a stage that the contributions of Isabelle Liberman can best be seen in this light. She was the builder of the foundational assumptions about the importance of phonological processes that we now take for granted. Many of the contributors to this volume share certain assumptions about reading that were far from established when Isabelle began making her seminal contributions to our understanding of reading acquisition. Indeed, an outsider perusing this volume is perhaps in the best position to see the magnitude of her contribution. To the layperson, our refined disputes about precisely how to fractionate phonological abilities and to trace the causal paths of each component will seem, at best, arcane; whereas the background assumptions that we all share will stand out in bold relief. We must remember this point when communicating current research on phonological processes to educators and parents.