Unpredictability and complexity of print-to-speech correspondences increase reliance on lexical processes

more evidence for the orthographic depth hypothesis

Xenia Schmalz*, Elisabeth Beyersmann, Eddy Cavalli, Eva Marinus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


The Orthographic Depth Hypothesis [Katz, L., & Frost, R. (1992). The reading process is different for different orthographies: The orthographic depth hypothesis. In R. Frost & L. Katz (Eds.), Orthography, phonology, morphology, and meaning (pp. 67–84). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science] proposes cross-linguistic differences in the involvement of lexical processing during reading. In orthographies with complex, inconsistent, and/or incomplete sublexical correspondences, decoding is more difficult and therefore slower. This gives more time to the lexical route to retrieve information, and leads to a greater ratio of lexical processing. We test whether this mechanism applies both for words with inconsistent (in English) and for words with complex (in French) correspondences. As complex correspondences are sufficient to derive a correct pronunciation, an increase in lexical processing may not occur. In a reading-aloud task, we used the frequency effect to measure lexical processing. The data showed stronger involvement of lexical processing for inconsistent compared to consistent words, and for complex compared to simple words. The results confirm that Katz and Frost’s proposed mechanism applies to different sources of orthographic depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-672
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2016


  • Dual-route model
  • English
  • French
  • cross-linguistic

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