Word frequency modulates morpheme-based reading in poor and skilled Italian readers

Stefania Marcolini, Daniela Traficante, Pierluigi Zoccolotti, Cristina Burani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A previous study reported that, similar to young and adult skilled readers, Italian developmental dyslexics read pseudowords made up of a root and a derivational suffix faster and more accurately than simple pseudowords. Unlike skilled readers, only dyslexic and reading-matched younger children benefited from morphological structure in reading words aloud. In this study, we show that word frequency affects the probability of morpheme-based reading, interacting with reading ability. Young skilled readers named low- but not high-frequency morphologically complex words faster than simple words. By contrast, the advantage for morphologically complex words was present in poor readers irrespective of word frequency. Adult readers showed no facilitating effect of morphological structure. These results indicate that young readers use reading units (morphemes) that are larger than the single-grapheme grain size. It is argued that morpheme-based reading is important for obtaining reading fluency (rather than accuracy) in transparent orthographies and is useful particularly in children with limited reading ability who do not fully master whole-word processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-532
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics

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