Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Richard S. Pittman


Before literacy materials can be prepared for preliterate groups, the analyst must discover the native speaker's reactions (1) to the sounds of his language so that a psychophonemic orthography can be developed, and (2) to the structure of his language, so that teaching methods will build on these reactions and help the prospective reader learn more quickly and easily to read and write his language.

Problems include immediate constituents of vowel glides and consonant clusters, syllable stress, syllable division within words, punctuation signals, and tone designation. In the Brôu language the main problem was to ascertain whether Brôu intuitions would show a more economical way to handle the 41 syllable nuclei.

These intuitions were tested (1) in primers, and (2) by a psycholinguistic experiment in which fifteen bilingual Brôu who had not yet been taught the Brôu orthography were given words to construct with cardboard letters.

Results proved (1) that the Brôu considered 41 contrastive syllable nuclei to be present; (2) that they considered length a contrastive feature of certain vowels; (3) that they related final vowels to medial long vowels; (4) that they related six tense-register vowels to six lax-register vowels as contrasting counterparts; (5) that they related four onglides to their four basic counterparts as simple rather than complex units; and (6) that they considered each of the ten offglides to be constituted of two basic vowels.

The psycholinguistic testing resulted in a more suitable orthography and will form the basis for a revised primer series which should be considerably superior to the first.

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