Italian has regular spelling-sound correspondences; however, assignment of lexical stress is unpredictable. Sensitivity to stress neighborhood information was investigated by constructing three types of three-syllabic nonwords: nonwords with word-endings characterized by a strong neighborhood of dominant stress words (dominant), nonwords with word-endings characterized by a strong neighborhood of non-dominant stress words (non-dominant), and nonwords with word-endings characterized by weak and/or inconsistent stress neighborhoods (ambivalent). Examples of these three types of nonwords were used as targets in a priming experiment. Examples of two of these types of nonwords (dominant and non-dominant) were used as primes. Adults (Experiment 1) and second and fourth-grade children (Experiment 2) were tested in a reading aloud task, and percentage of responses with dominant stress was measured. Children were sensitive to item-specific stress neighborhood information, but less so than adults. Children demonstrated more marked effects of dominant stress, effects that appear to decrease with age. Children also showed smaller effects of prosodic priming compared to adults. The results are in line with a statistical approach to learning.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2013
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