Unpredictability and complexity of print-to-speech correspondences increase reliance on lexical processes: More evidence for the Orthographic Depth Hypothesis

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Description: The Orthographic Depth Hypothesis (ODH; Katz & Frost, 1992) proposes cross-linguistic differences in the involvement of lexical processing during reading. In orthographies where sublexical correspondences are complex, inconsistent, and/or incomplete, the decoding process is more difficult and therefore slower. This results in more time for the lexical route to retrieve the relevant information, and a greater relative ratio of lexical processing. Although evidence for this claim exists (Frost et al., 1987; Frost, 1994), it is unclear whether complexity, inconsistency, and incompleteness affect reading processes in the same way. Here, we test the evidence for this mechanism for words with inconsistent (in English) and complex (in French) correspondences. In a reading aloud task, we find stronger involvement of lexical processing, as measured by the frequency effect, for inconsistent compared to consistent words, as well as for complex compared to simple words. The results confirm that Katz and Frost’s proposed mechanism applies to different sources of orthographic depth.

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