[PS-2.3] The issue of compound segmentation for poor readers of German

Pappert, S. 1 & Bock, B. M. 2

1 Heidelberg University
2 University of Cologne

German compounds are written as composed forms. It is current practice to segment them in easy-to-read German, but segmentation is suggested to hinder comprehension of semantically opaque compounds. The aim of the present study was to test potential effects of segmentation and semantic transparency on lexical processing in poor readers.
Lexical decisions were collected from adults with intellectual disability and from functional illiterates (cf. McKoon & Ratcliff, 2016). They decided on unsegmented and segmented compounds that differed in semantic transparency (e.g., Luftpumpe, 'air pump' composed of 'air' and 'pump' vs Drahtesel, 'bicycle' composed of 'wire' and 'donkey'; compounds were matched for lexical frequency and number of letters and syllables). Decisions were faster (a) on segmented than on unsegmented compounds and (b) on transparent than on opaque compounds, but there was no interaction (cf. Smolka & Libben, 2017, for decomposition of opaque compounds in skilled readers). Post hoc analyses revealed that the frequency of the first constituent had an effect on overall decision times, indicating that unsegmented compounds were decomposed, too (cf. Hasenäcker & Schroeder, 2019). Two potential loci of the segmentation advantage will be discussed.