Inácio, F. 1, 2 , Reis, A. 1, 2 , Ponte, M. 2 , Catronas, D. 2 & Faísca, L. 1, 2
1 Faculdade de Ciências Humanas e Sociais, University of Algarve, Portugal
2 Center for Biomedical Research (CBMR), University of Algarve, Portugal
When writing words we often have to choose among different legal orthographic patterns to spell a specific sound (e.g., the sound [?] could be correctly represented by <x> or <ch>). Although either spelling is correct, some patterns are clearly more frequent than others in the European Portuguese (e.g., the sound [a:? ?] could be correctly spelled with either <aix> or <aich>, but it is more frequent to find words spelled with <aix>). Although some of these alternative orthographic patterns have asymmetric distribution in the Portuguese lexicon, this difference is not explicitly taught during reading and writing acquisition.
In this study, we tested if adult spellers, both typical readers and dyslexics, use this implicit distributional information and if they were aware of it. We incorporated these asymmetrical orthographic patterns in pseudowords (for example <mupaixo/mupaicho>) and created a dictation of pseudowords task and a forced-choice decision task. Results showed that all participants chose the most frequent orthographic pattern, without awareness of such trend. Given that these trends are not explicitly taught, we discuss that the prominent orthographic pattern must be acquired implicitly by exposure to printed text and that dyslexics could benefit from this implicit acquisition to improve their reading skills.