Cross-language differences in the use of internal orthographic structure when reading polysyllabic words

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Abstract:

The way in which adult readers process the internal orthographic structure of words was examined in two languages that differ in their syllabic structure, English and Spanish. Readers of both languages were presented with polysyllabic words split according to either their pronounced syllable (e.g., cac tus) or their maximized initial unit corresponding to their Basic Orthographic Syllabic Structure (BOSS, e.g., cact us). In agreement with previous research, it was found that speed of lexical decision to syllabically split words was faster than to BOSS split words for poorer English speakers, while better English speakers were more oriented toward the BOSS. The Spanish data suggested an overall syllable bias regardless of reading ability, though less so for better readers. The contrast between the English and Spanish results is explained in terms of phonological considerations being more important for Spanish readers.
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