Heterography and homography  

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In linguistics, heterography is a property of a written language, such that it lacks a 1-to-1 correspondence between the written symbols and the sounds of the spoken language. Its opposite is homography, which is the property of a language such that written symbols of its written form and the sounds of its spoken form have a 1-to-1 correspondence.

The orthography of the English language is, according to Larry Trask, a "spectacular example" of heterography. But most European languages exhibit it to some extent. Finnish is "very close" to being a systematically homographic language. A phonemic transcription (such as a transcription of phonemes that uses the International Phonetic Alphabet, for example) is, by its nature, homographic, also.

The degree of heterography of a language is a factor in how difficult it is for person to learn to read that language, with highly heterographic orthographies being more difficult to learn than more homographic ones. Many people have espoused the point of view that the extreme heterographic nature of English is a disadvantage in several respects. These include, for example, Dr. Kiyoshi Makita writing in the July 1968 issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, who attributes the rarity of dyslexia amongst Japanese children to the fact that Japanese is highly homographic language.

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