Development of spelling skills in a shallow orthography: The case of Italian language

Alessandra Notarnicola, Paola Angelelli, Anna Judica, Pierluigi Zoccolotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study analyzed the spelling skills of Italian children as a function of school experience. We examined the writing performances of 465 first- to eighth-grade normal readers on a spelling test that included regular words, context-sensitive regular words, words with ambiguous transcription, and regular pseudowords. Based on the dual-route model (DRM), the regularity and orthographic complexity effects were considered to probe sublexical processing while the lexicality effect was taken to mark lexical processing. The analysis of spelling performances indicated that, among Italian children, both lexical and sublexical procedures are available since the first year of schooling. However, the two procedures showed different developmental trends. The DRM appears as a useful theoretical framework to describe the development of spelling in a relatively regular language such as Italian.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1171-1194
Number of pages24
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Development
  • Dual-route models
  • Graphemic complexity effect
  • Italian
  • Lexicality effect
  • Orthography
  • Regularity effect
  • Spelling acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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