Prevalence of Spelling Errors Affects Reading Behavior Across Languages

Victor Kuperman, Amalia Bar-On, Raymond Bertram, Rober Boshra, Avital Deutsch, Aki Juhani Kyröläinen, Barbara Mathiopoulou, Gaisha Oralova, Athanassios Protopapas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This cross-linguistic study investigated the impact of spelling errors on reading behavior in five languages (Chinese, English, Finnish, Greek, and Hebrew). Learning theories predict that correct and incorrectspelling alternatives (e.g., “tomorrow” and “tommorrow”) provide competing cues to the sound andmeaning of a word: The closer the alternatives are to each other in their frequency of occurrence, themore uncertain the reader is regarding the spelling of that word. An information-theoretic measure ofentropy was used as an index of uncertainty. Based on theories of learning, we predicted that higher entropywould lead to slower recognition of words even when they are spelled correctly. This predictionwas confirmed in eye-tracking sentence-reading experiments in five languages widely variable in theirwriting systems’ phonology and morphology. Moreover, in each language, we observed a characteristicEntropy 3 Frequency interaction; arguably, its functional shape varied as a function of the orthographictransparency of a given written language

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1974-1993
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume150
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Cross-linguistic studies
  • Eye movements
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Spelling

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