The structure of graphemic representations

Alfonso Caramazza*, Gabriele Miceli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

298 Citations (Scopus)


The analysis of the spelling performance of a brain-damaged dysgraphic subject is reported. The subject's spelling performance was affected by verious graphotactic factors, such as the distinction between consonant and vowel and graphosyllabic structure. For example, while the subject produced many consonant and vowel dedeletion errors when these were part of consonant and vowel clusters, respectively (e.g., sfondo → sondo; guinta → gunta), deletions were virtually never produced for single consonants flanked by two vowels (e.g., onesto oesto) or for single vowels flanked by two consonants (e.g., tirare trare). The dedmonstration that graphosyllabic factors affect spelling performance disconfirms the hypothesis that graphemic representations consist simply of linearly ordered sets of graphemes. It is concluded that graphemic representations are multidimensional structures: one dimension specifies the grapheme identities that comprise the spelling of a word; a second dimension specifies the consonant/vowel status of the graphemes; a third dimension represents the graphosyllabic structure of the grapheme string; and, a fourth dimension provides information about geminate features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-297
Number of pages55
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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