Nineteen adults who did not know how to read were asked to spell a list of words as well as possible. In general, their spellings consisted of letters whose names could be clearly heard in the pronunciation of the word (e.g., the spelling I and U for chinelo, in which the names of the letters i and u can be detected in the pronunciation of the word). These results suggest that illiterate adults use their knowledge of letter names to connect print to speech. Similar to what has been observed among preschool children, the use of this strategy resulted, sometimes, in so-called "syllabic" spellings, that is, spellings in which the number of letters correspond to the number of syllables in the pronunciation of the word.
Illiterate adults; Spelling; Letter-name knowledge