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Title: The effect of orthographic transparency on auditory word recognition across the development of reading proficiency
Authors: Bakhtiar, M
Mokhlesin, M
Pattamadilok, C
Politzer-Ahles, S 
Zhang, C 
Issue Date: Jul-2021
Source: Frontiers in psychology, July 2021, v. 12, 691989
Abstract: A question under debate in psycholinguistics is the nature of the relationship between spoken and written languages. Although it has been extensively shown that orthographic transparency, which varies across writing systems, strongly affects reading performance, its role in speech processing is much less investigated. The present study addressed this issue in Persian, whose writing system provides a possibility to assess the impact of orthographic transparency on spoken word recognition in young children at different stages of reading acquisition. In Persian, the long vowels are systematically present in the script, whereas the spelling correspondence of short vowels is progressively omitted from the script in the course of reading acquisition, thus, turning transparent into opaque spelling. Based on this unique characteristic, we tested 144 monolingual Persian-speaking nonreaders (i.e., preschoolers) and readers (second graders to fifth graders and young adults) in an auditory lexical decision task using transparent and opaque words. Overall, the results showed that, in accordance with the fact that the diacritics of short vowels are progressively omitted during the second year of schooling, the stimuli containing short vowels (opaque words) were recognized more slowly than transparent ones in third graders. Interestingly, there is a hint that the emergence of the transparency effect in the third graders was associated with an overall slower recognition speed in this group compared to their younger peers. These findings indicate that learning opaque spelling-sound correspondence might not only generate interference between the two language codes but also induce a general processing cost in the entire spoken language system.
Keywords: Lexical decision
Orthographic transparency
Persian script
Reading acquisition
Spoken word recognition
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
Journal: Frontiers in psychology 
EISSN: 1664-1078
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.691989
Rights: © 2021 Bakhtiar, Mokhlesin, Pattamadilok, Politzer-Ahles and Zhang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) ( The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
The following publication Bakhtiar M, Mokhlesin M, Pattamadilok C, Politzer-Ahles S and Zhang C (2021) The Effect of Orthographic Transparency on Auditory Word Recognition Across the Development of Reading Proficiency. Front. Psychol. 12:691989 is available at
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