Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 16: 61–80, 2003.
© 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Little Frog and Toad: Interaction of orthography and phonology
in Polish spelling
City University, London, UK
Abstract. The interaction of lexical and non-lexical processes in spelling was investigated
through lexical priming of non-lexical spelling, in Polish, a language in whose relatively trans-
parent orthography lexical information might be expected to play a less inﬂuential role than
in English. Orthographic choice for nonwords was assessed under free and primed spelling
conditions for both adults and children using direct and associative priming. The ﬁndings
indicated that lexical orthography inﬂuences resolution of nonlexical phonology in spelling
and identiﬁed two sources of inﬂuence: one in unprimed spelling, where long-standing ortho-
graphic knowledge affected nonword orthographic choice so that it was not determined solely
by phonology, the other in primed spelling, where orthographic solutions to nonwords were
inﬂuenced by the covert orthography of the prime. The most powerful evidence for lexical
inﬂuence comes from the ﬁnding that lexical orthography not only informs resolution of
phonology in cases of ambiguity, but overrides phonology when resolution is unambiguous.
Key words: Lexicon, Orthography, Phonology, Priming, Spelling
Writing systems differ in the level at which they represent spoken language
and this has implications for how spelling can be achieved. In logographic
scripts such as Chinese or Japanese kanji [however, see DeFrancis (1989) for
a more stringent classiﬁcation of a logography], where the units represented
by individual written characters are ones of meaning, such as morphemes
(Zhang, Perfetti & Jang, 1999; Chua, 1999; Tan & Perfetti, 1999; Sakuma,
Sasanuma, Tatsumi & Masaki, 1998), writing must involve retrieval of the
written character as a whole, from a pre-established lexicon of such represen-
tations. Alphabetic orthographies, which represent speech at a phonemic
level, offer the additional possibility of computing the written form of a
word by a sub-lexical process of sound-to-spelling mapping. These two possi-
bilities, the lexical and sub-lexical or phonological, have been embodied
in the classical dual-route model of spelling (Morton, 1980; Ellis, 1993;
Phonetic symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (Handbook of the International
Phonetic Association, 1999) are used throughout.