When benefits outweigh costs: Reconsidering "automatic" phonological recoding when reading aloud

Serje Robidoux*, Derek Besner

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Skilled readers are slower to read aloud exception words (e.g., PINT) than regular words (e.g., MINT). In the case of exception words, sublexical knowledge competes with the correct pronunciation driven by lexical knowledge, whereas no such competition occurs for regular words. The dominant view is that the cost of this "regularity" effect is evidence that sublexical spelling-sound conversion is impossible to prevent (i.e., is "automatic"). This view has become so reified that the field rarely questions it. However, the results of simulations from the most successful computational models on the table suggest that the claim of "automatic" sublexical phonological recoding is premature given that there is also a benefit conferred by sublexical processing. Taken together with evidence from skilled readers that sublexical phonological recoding can be stopped, we suggest that the field is too narrowly focused when it asserts that sublexical phonological recoding is "automatic" and that a broader, more nuanced and contextually driven approach provides a more useful framework.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)105-108
    Number of pages4
    JournalCanadian Journal of Experimental Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


    • Automaticity
    • Computational models
    • Phonological recoding
    • Reading aloud


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