Investigations of reading in Spanish and other languages have shown that adults recognize words with a frequent first syllable more slowly than words with an infrequent first syllable, providing evidence for sublexical-syllabic processing. The common interpretation of this inhibitory effect of syllable frequency is that it results from competition among candidate words that supposedly become activated based on the first syllable. Investigations with children have found varied results, sometimes showing an inhibitory effect (as in adults) or sometimes a facilitative one. It is unclear whether this results from different processing in children, because there are differences in experimental design and the selection of the verbal material that could account for these inconsistencies. The aim of the current study was to put to the test the effect of first-syllable frequency in Spanish-speaking children, with words controlled for potential confounding variables that had previously produced an inhibitory effect in adults. We measured reaction times in a lexical decision task presented to 90 Colombian schoolchildren, from 2nd and 5th grades of primary school. Results in this task showed faster recognition for words with a frequent first syllable. One could conclude tentatively that sublexical variables (in this case, the syllable) play a role in reading, beginning in childhood, although syllable processing differs in its pattern from that observed in adults, producing a facilitatory effect in children and an inhibitory effect in adults.
|Translated title of the contribution
|Evidence for a facilitatory effect of syllable frequency in words reading from Spanish speaking schoolchildren in grade 2 and 5
|Number of pages
|Published - 2019
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language