Children with reading disabilities differ from children that read typically in their use of morphological forms. This view has been supported by multiple studies that review the relationship between reading and morphology (Carlisle, J., & Stone, C. 2005; Nagy, W., Berninger, V., & Abbott, R. 2006; Reed, D. 2008; Kuo, L. & Anderson, R. 2006). Morphology has been linked to reading ability, as has phonology, for many years. Traditionally reading ability, or disability, is detected by the student’s strength with phonology(Crisp, J.& Lambon Ralph, M. 2006; Marshall, C. & van der Lely, H. 2007;), yet many recent studies have indicated that morphological awareness can play a key role in the detection and intervention of reading disability, especially as the student gets older (Nagy, W., Berninger, V., & Abbott, R. 2006; McCutchen, D., Green, L., & Abbott, R.2008; Rabin, J., & Deacon, H.2008). In this literature review, we will discuss morphological use and its connection to reading ability, the connection between phonology and reading, and the importance of morphological form usage as an indicator of reading ability. Finally, we will discuss the focus of this research, its purpose, significance, and research questions.
Since lower use of morphological forms can be an indicator of reading disability, it is important to understand what morphological forms are. A morpheme is a single unit of meaning, and a form in morphology can refer to a suffix or prefix, otherwise known as bound morphemes (Deacon, S., Parrila, R., &Kirby, J. 2006). These forms can change the meaning of a word but do not have meaning without attachment to a word. For instance –ed can change a verb into its past tense, while adding dis- to the beginning of a word can make a verb negative, but neither of these would be used without a root word. Other affixes can change a verb into a noun. Another name for this is derivational morphology, which is linked with reading comprehension.
The link between reading and morphology has been well established. Nagy, Berninger, and Abbott found that derivational Morphology is an important and unique factor of learning to read (2006). Understanding complex words depends greatly on understanding the word parts (Nagy, W., Berninger, V., & Abbott, R. 2006). For instance, “disagreement” is more easily decoded if a child already knows the word agree, that the prefix dis- makes it negative, and that the suffix –ment makes it a noun. In their experiment, they evaluated 607 students, from fourth to ninth grade on their morphological knowledge, phonological ability, reading ability, and spelling. The researchers then compared the measures of phonological ability and morphological awareness to the literacy measures. They also compared the phonological and morphological measures to each other. They found that morphological awareness uniquely contributed to reading comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling for all the grade levels evaluated. ...