Semantic Involvement in Reading Aloud: Evidence From a Nonword Training Study

Adam McKay*, Chris Davis, Greg Savage, Anne Castles

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)


    The current research uses a novel methodology to examine the role of semantics in reading aloud. Participants were trained to read aloud 2 sets of novel words (i.e., nonwords such as bink): some with meanings (semantic) and some without (nonsemantic). A comparison of reading aloud performance between these 2 sets of novel words was used to provide an indicator of the importance of semantic information in reading aloud. In Experiment 1, in contrast to expectations, reading aloud performance was not better for novel words in the semantic condition. In Experiment 2, the training of novel words was modified to reflect more realistic steps of lexical acquisition: Reading aloud performance became faster and more accurate for novel words in the semantic condition, but only for novel words with inconsistent pronunciations. This semantic advantage for inconsistent novel words was again observed when a subset of participants from Experiment 2 was retested 6-12 months later (in Experiment 3). These findings provide support for a limited but significant role for semantics in the reading aloud process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1495-1517
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


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