THE INFLUENCE OF ORTHOGRAPHY ON AUDITORY SPEECH PERCEPTION IN AMERICAN ENGLISH: EVIDENCE FOR INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
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A number of studies done in the past decade revealed influence of orthographic information on auditory speech perception in literate adults and children. Even though these studies yield convergent results, researchers in different languages do not always use the same experimental paradigms to assess orthographic effects. One of the goals of the present study was to extend the findings of orthographic effects in speech perception to American English using the same paradigm that has been previously used in French and Portuguese (simple auditory lexical decision task manipulating orthographic consistency of stimuli), thus strengthening the cross-linguistic validity of both the methodology and the results and laying the foundation for direct cross-linguistic comparisons and other extensions involving American English speakers. Developmental research has shown that the size of orthographic effects in speech perception in children is associated with their reading level, however the question whether the size of orthographic effects observed in adult fluent readers is uniform has not been addressed. The second goal of the study was to explore individual differences in the size of orthographic effects and the nature of these differences. The results were convergent with findings from French and Portuguese: words with rhymes that have multiple spellings produced longer latencies and more errors than words with only one possible spelling. However the analysis of data from individual subjects showed that even in a sample that is quite homogeneous in age and literacy level (college students), there may be significant individual difference in the size of orthographic influences on speech perception, associated with differences in spelling competence.