Reading and Writing

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 495–509

Context-sensitive rules and word naming in Italian children

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11145-006-9040-z

Cite this article as:
Barca, L., Ellis, A.W. & Burani, C. Read Writ (2007) 20: 495. doi:10.1007/s11145-006-9040-z


The present study examines the role of orthographic complexity on Italian children’s word reading. Two experiments are reported in which elementary school children (3rd and 5th graders) read aloud words containing simple or contextual letter-sound conversion rules. In Experiment 1, both groups of participants read words containing contextual rules more slowly and less accurately than words containing simple, non-contextual rules. Experiment 2 showed that the effect of rule complexity held for low but not high frequency words, on both reading speed and accuracy. No interactions with grade were found. This pattern is in line with previous findings on the effects of rule contextuality on adult performance [Burani, C. Barca, L. & Ellis, A. W. (2006). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13, 346–352]. Despite the regularity of the Italian orthography, the presence of complex rules influences both reading speed and accuracy of young readers. Moreover, the reading system of readers of a shallow orthography seems efficient from the first years of reading instruction.


Italian languageYoung readersOrthographic complexityWord reading aloud

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Barca
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew W. Ellis
    • 1
  • Cristina Burani
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.Institute for Cognitive Sciences and TechnologiesISTC-CNRRomeItaly