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What is Phonological Awareness?

Phonology comes from phonos a combination of a Greek word for sound and the Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to speak, tell, say.”

the -logy part of the word goes back to meaning science, you know like biology, and traces back to the Greek logos meaning “word, speech, statement, discourse.”

Smash it together and you get:

“the science of the sounds uttered by the human voice or used in a particular language, phonetics; that part of grammar which treats of pronunciation; the system of sounds and of their combinations in a language,” 1799, from phono- + -logy“ (Thank Online Etymology Dictionary)

Now for the awareness part. The tale of this word travels from old English to proto-German back to the Proto-Indo-European root meaning of *wer- “perceive, watch out for.”

The -ness suffix means an action or state. Think smoothness, stubborness, and brightness.This one goes English, German and Latin.


So Phonological Awareness then means a state of perceiving differences in the sounds uttered as part of the language. This makes phonological awareness an umbrella term that includes large parts of a language, like words and syllables down to smaller parts such as onsets, rimes, and phonemes.


We use letters to represent sounds. We use grapheme, the written representation of one sound, as the two dollar word for letters. Part of phonological awareness involves discriminating between syllables. Then we break those down further into onsets and rimes, but once you start talking letter and sound combinations you move into phonics.

Onsets and Rimes

So this includes Onsets and Rimes, the starting parts of words, onsets, and the ending part of rimes. Remember Every rime rhymes but not every rhyme is a rime.


Phonological Awareness also includes the ability to recognize the smallest a phoneme. When we break words down to the smallest parts phoneme, as the smallest unit of sound, can still carry meaning. So take bookcases for example. How many phonemes? Spoiler,three. Book, case, and the plural -s all carry sound and meaning.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonological awareness thus also includes phonemic awareness, a subset of progressive skills that allow people to break words down into individual sound parts.

phonological_awareness.txt · Last modified: 2022/03/13 15:47 by