Reading and lexicalization in opaque and transparent orthographies: Word naming and word learning in English and Spanish

Rosa Kit Wan Kwok, Fernando Cuetos, Rrezarta Avdyli, Andrew W. Ellis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    23 Citations (Scopus)
    124 Downloads (Pure)


    Do skilled readers of opaque and transparent orthographies make differential use of lexical and sublexical processes when converting words from print to sound? Two experiments are reported, which address that question, using effects of letter length on naming latencies as an index of the involvement of sublexical letter–sound conversion. Adult native speakers of English (Experiment 1) and Spanish (Experiment 2) read aloud four- and seven-letter high-frequency words, low-frequency words, and nonwords in their native language. The stimuli were interleaved and presented 10 times in a first testing session and 10 more times in a second session 28 days later. Effects of lexicality were observed in both languages, indicating the deployment of lexical representations in word naming. Naming latencies to both words and nonwords reduced across repetitions on Day 1, with those savings being retained to Day 28. Length effects were, however, greater for Spanish than English word naming. Reaction times to long and short nonwords converged with repeated presentations in both languages, but less in Spanish than in English. The results support the hypothesis that reading in opaque orthographies favours the rapid creation and use of lexical representations, while reading in transparent orthographies makes more use of a combination of lexical and sublexical processing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2105-2129
    Number of pages25
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2016


    • English
    • Grain size theory
    • Orthography
    • Reading
    • Spanish
    • Transparency
    • Word learning
    • Word length
    • Word naming


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