Lexical stress assignment in Italian developmental dyslexia

Despina Paizi, Pierluigi Zoccolotti, Cristina Burani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress assignment to Italian polysyllabic words is unpredictable, because stress is neither marked nor predicted by rule. Stress assignment, especially to low frequency words, has been reported to be a function of stress dominance and stress neighbourhood. Two experiments investigate stress assignment in sixth-grade, skilled and dyslexic, readers. In Experiment 1, skilled readers were not affected by stress dominance. Dyslexic children, although affected by word frequency, made more stress regularisation errors on low frequency words. In Experiment 2, stress neighbourhood affected low frequency word reading irrespective of stress dominance for both skilled and dyslexic readers. Words with many stress friends were read more accurately than words with many stress enemies. It is concluded that, in assigning stress, typically developing and developmental dyslexic Italian readers are sensitive to the distributional properties of the language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-461
Number of pages19
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Stress assignment
  • Stress dominance
  • Stress neighbourhood
  • Word frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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