How Does a Phonological Dyslexic Read Words She Has Never Seen?

Gianfranco Denes, Lisa Cipolotti, Carlo Semenza

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In literate people the visual input logogen system contains roughly the same number of words as the auditory input and phonological output logogen systems. An exception is represented by literate people who speak a dialect which has no written tradition. An Italian phonological dyslexic patient (ML), speaking Italian and Friulan dialect, is described. Her performance in reading Friulan was less good than her reading of Italian words but substantially better than her nonword reading. It is suggested that dialect words are read less well than Italian words because on the only reading route which is intact in a phonological dyslexic (a lexical one), no orthographic entry is represented for dialect words, since there has been no previous exposure to dialect in the written modality. On the other side the advantage shown for reading of dialect words over nonwords, which is in some respects similar to the advantage demonstrated in English and French phonological dyslexics for reading pseudohomophones over ordinary nonwords, may have several explanations. A first possibility is that information coming from the phonological output lexicon would enhance the phonological assembly of real dialect words. A second and third explanation consider the possible intervention of a top-down mechanism: in one case the helping information would come again from the phonological output lexicon, in the other case from a store consisting of potential graphemic forms generated by long auditory exposure to a word. This latter mechanism would be more likely to work in a speaker whose language has regular phoneme-to-grapheme correspondences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-31
Number of pages21
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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