Speed of lexical and nonlexical processing in French: The case of the regularity effect


  • Ziegler J
  • Perry C
  • Coltheart M

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Words with irregular spelling-sound correspondences are read aloud more slowly than words with regular spelling-sound correspondences. This so-called regularity effect is modulated by word frequency, with low-frequency words showing larger costs than do high-frequency words. Because French has more regular spelling-to-sound correspondences than English, we expected a different pattern in French than in English. This was indeed the case, since regularity effects were obtained for both high-and low-frequency words in French. We further showed that a French implementation of the dual-route cascaded model could not account for this pattern. In additional simulations, we investigated whether this failure was due to lexical processes being too fast (leaving little time for the nonlexical route to interfere) or nonlexical processes being too slow. The results showed that only speeding up the nonlexical route allowed the model to capture the data. This suggests that the delayed phonology assumption that characterizes nonlexical processing in the original model needs to be abandoned in a more regular orthography.

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