Reading and Writing

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 497–526 | Cite as

Syllabic Sructures in Typing: Evidence from Deaf Writers

  • Guido NottbuschEmail author
  • Angela Grimm
  • Rüdiger Weingarten
  • Udo Will


This study examined the time course of typing in prelingually and profoundly deaf as well as hearing individuals. Both groups of participants performed a written picture naming task and a written pseudoword task. Keystroke timing measurements from the written picture naming task revealed that the deaf as well as the hearing group were significantly delayed at syllable boundaries compared to identical within-syllable letter combinations. As the deaf are impoverished with respect to phonology based on spoken language experience, we postulate that syllabic segmentation is not crucially dependent on experience with spoken language. Furthermore, delays at syllable boundaries were not affected by word frequency in both groups, in contrast to the keys straddling a root morpheme boundary. Together with the finding that delays at syllable boundaries also occur in pseudowords, the experiments provide strong evidence towards post-lexical syllabification processes. Our results support previous findings which claim that (1) orthosyllables are autonomous and mode-specific entities, and (2) that the principles of syllabic organisation apply post-lexically.


Deaf Syllable Orthosyllable Writing Typing 



InterKey Interval (the time between two successive keystrokes)


an IKI straddling a letter boundary


an IKI straddling a syllable boundary


an IKI straddling a syllable and a morpheme boundary


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baayen, R., Piepenbrock, H., Rijn, H. 1993The CELEX lexical database [Computer Software]. Linguistic Data ConsortiumUniversity of Pennsylvania.Philadelphia, PAGoogle Scholar
  2. Badecker, W. 1996Representational properties common to phonological and orthographic output systemsLingua995583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blevins, J. 1995The syllable in phonological theoryGoldsmith, J. eds. The handbook of phonological theoryBlackwellCambridge, MA206244Google Scholar
  4. Bonin, P., Fayol, M., Gombert, J. E. 1998An experimental study of lexical access in writing and naming of isolated wordsInternational Journal of Psychology33269286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonin, P., Peereman, R., Fayol, M. 2001Do phonological codes constrain the selection of orthographic codes in written picture namingJournal of Memory and Language45688720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brentari, D. 1995Sign language phonology: ASLGoldsmith, J. eds. The handbook of phonological theoryBlackwellCambridge, MA615639Google Scholar
  7. Burden, V., Campbell, R. 1994The development of word-coding skills in the born deaf: An experimental study of deaf school-leaversBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology12331349Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, R., Wright, H. 1988Deafness, spelling and rhyme: How spelling supports written word and picture rhyming skills in deaf subjectsQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology40A771788Google Scholar
  9. Caramazza, A., Miceli, G. 1990The structure of graphemic representationsCognition37243297CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Charlier, B.L., Leybaert, J. 2000The rhyming skills of deaf children educated with phonetically augmented speechreadingThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology53A349375Google Scholar
  11. Clements, G. 1990The role of the sonority cycle in core syllabificationKingston, J.Beckman, M. eds. Papers in laboratory phonology I: Between the grammar and physics of speechCambridge University PressCambridge283333Google Scholar
  12. Cubelli, R. 1991A selective deficit for writing vowels in acquired dysgraphiaNature353258260CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Domahs, F., Bleser, R., Eisenberg, P. 2001Silbische Aspekte segmentalen Schreibens–neurolinguistische Evidenz [Syllabic aspects of segmental writing–neurolinguistic evidence]Linguistische Berichte1851330Google Scholar
  14. Eisenberg, P. 1998Das Wort: Grundriß der deutschen Grammatik (Vol. 1) [The word: Compendium of German grammar]MetzlerStuttgart, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  15. Ellis, A.W., Morrison, C.M., Quinlan, P.T. 1992Age of acquisition, not word frequency, affects object naming, not object recognitionMemory and Cognition20705714Google Scholar
  16. Gentner, D.R. 1983The acquisition of typewriting skillActa Psychologica54233248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gentner, D.R., Larochelle, S., Grudin, J. 1988Lexical, sublexical, and peripheral effects in skilled typewritingCognitive Psychology20524548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Genzel, S., Kerkhoff, G., Scheffter, S. 1995PC-gestützte Standardisierung des Bildmaterials von Snodgrass & Vanderwart (1980) [PC-aided standardization of the pictorial material from Snodgrass & Vanderwart (1980)]Neurolinguistik94153Google Scholar
  19. Grudin, J.T. 1983Error patterns in novice and skilled transcription typingCooper, W. E. eds. Cognitive aspects of skilled typewritingSpringerNew York121143Google Scholar
  20. Hanson, V.L. 1986Access to spoken language and the acquisition of orthographic structure: Evidence from deaf readersThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology38A193212Google Scholar
  21. Hanson, V.L., Fowler, C.A. 1987Phonological coding in word reading: Evidence from hearing and deaf readersMemory & Cognition15199207Google Scholar
  22. Hanson, V.L., McGarr, N.S. 1989Rime generation by deaf adultsJournal of Speech and Hearing Research32211PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Jescheniak, J.D., Levelt, W.J.M. 1994Word frequency effects in speech production: Retrieval of syntactic information and of phonological formJournal of Experimental Psychology: Language, Memory and Cognition20824843Google Scholar
  24. Larochelle, S. 1983A comparison of skilled and novice performance in discontinuous typingCooper, W. E. eds. Cognitive aspects of skilled typewritingSpringerNew York6794Google Scholar
  25. Leybaert, J. 2000Phonology acquired through the eyes and spelling in deaf childrenJournal of Experimental Child Psychology75291318CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Marini, V., Blanken, G. 1996Orthographie ohne Phonologie: Ein Fall von Tiefenagraphie bei neologistischer Jargon-Aphasie [Orthography without phonology: A case of deep agraphia with neologistic jargon-aphasia]Neurolinguistik1083107Google Scholar
  27. Marschark, M. 1993Psychological development of deaf childrenOxford University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. McCloskey, M., Badecker, W., Goodman-Schulman, R.A., Aliminosa, D. 1994The structure of graphemic representation in spelling: Evidence from a case of acquired dysgraphiaCognitive Neuropsychology11341392Google Scholar
  29. Mehler, J., Jusczyk, P., Lambertz, G., Halsted, G., Bertoncini, J., Amiel-Tison, C. 1988A precursor of language acquisition in young infantsCognition29143178CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Miceli, G., Benvegnu, B, Capasso, R., Caramazza , A. 1997The independence of phonological and orthographic lexical forms: Evidence from aphasiaCognitive Neuropsychology143569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nottbusch, G., Weingarten, R., Will, U. 1998Schreiben mit der Hand und Schreiben mit dem Computer [Writing by hand and writing with the computer]Osnabrücker Beiträge zur Sprachtheorie (OBST)561127Google Scholar
  32. Olson, A.C., Nickerson, J. F. 2001Syllabic organisation and deafness: Orthographic structure or letter frequency in readingThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology54A421438Google Scholar
  33. Olson, A.C., Caramazza, A 2004Orthographic structure and deaf spelling errors: Syllables, letter frequency, and speechThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology57A385417Google Scholar
  34. Ostry, D.J. 1983Determinants of interkey times in typingCooper, W. E. eds. Cognitive aspects of skilled typewritingSpringerNew York225246Google Scholar
  35. Peperkamp, S., Mehler, J. 1999Signed and spoken language: A unique underlying systemLanguage and Speech42333347PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Pfau, R. 1997Zur phonologischen Komponente der Deutschen Gebärdensprache: Segmente und Silben [On the phonological component of German Sign Language: segments and syllables]Frankfurter Linguistische Forschungen20129Google Scholar
  37. Pinto, A., Monsalve, A., Cuetos, F., Rodriguez-Ferreiro, J. 2004Predictor variables of written picture naming in the deafReading and Writing17227240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Primus, B. 2003Zum Silbenbegriff in der Schrift-, Laut- und Gebärdensprache: Versuch einer mediumübergreifenden Fundierung [On the term `syllable' in writing, speaking and signing: An attempt towards a comprehensive foundation]Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft23355Google Scholar
  39. Rapp, B.C. 1992The nature of sublexical orthographic organization: The bigram through hypothesisJournal of Memory and Language313353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rapp, B.C., Benzing, L., Caramazza, A. 1997The autonomy of lexical orthographyCognitive Neuropsychology1471104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rumelhart, D.E., Norman, D.A. 1982Simulating a skilled typist: A study of skilled cognitive-motor performanceCognitive Science6136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sahel, S., Nottbusch, G., Blanken, G., Weingarten, R. 2005The role of phonology and syllabic structure in the time course of typing: Evidence from aphasiaLinguistische Berichte2016587Google Scholar
  43. Shaffer, L.H. 1975Control processes in typingQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology27419432Google Scholar
  44. Shaffer, L.H. 1978Timing in the motor programming of typingQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology30333345Google Scholar
  45. Snodgrass, J.G., Vanderwart, M. 1980A standardized set of 260 pictures: Norms for name agreement, image agreement, familiarity, and visual complexityJournal of Experimental Psychology, Human Learning and Memory6174215Google Scholar
  46. Sternberg, S., Monsell, S., Knoll, R.L., Wright, C.E. 1978Latency and duration of rapid movement sequences: Comparison of speech and typewritingStelmach, G. E. eds. Information processing in motor control and learningAcademic PressNew York117152Google Scholar
  47. Sterne, A., Goswami, U. 2000Phonological awareness of syllables, rimes, and phonemes in deaf childrenJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry41609625CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Terzuolo, C.A., Viviani, P. 1980Determinants and characteristics of motor patterns used for typingNeuroscience510851103CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Transler, C., Gombert, J.E., Leybaert, J. 2001Phonological decoding in severely and profoundly deaf children: Similarity judgment between written pseudowordsApplied Psycholinguistics226182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Transler, C., Leybaert, J., Gombert, J.E. 1999Do deaf children use phonological syllables as reading unitsJournal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education4124143CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Ward, J., Romani, C. 2000Consonant-vowel encoding and ortho-syllables in a case of acquired dysgraphiaCognitive Neuropsychology17641663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Waters, G.S., Doehring, D.G. 1990Reading acquisition in congenitally deaf children who communicate orally: Insights from an analysis of component reading, language and memory skillsCarr, T. H.Levy, B. A. eds. Reading and its development: Component skills approachesAcademic PressSan Diego323373Google Scholar
  53. Weingarten, R., Nottbusch, G., Will, U. 2004Morphemes, syllables, and graphemes in written word productionPechmann, T.Habel, Ch. eds. Multidisciplinary approaches to language productionMouton de GruyterBerlin529572Google Scholar
  54. Wilson, M., Emmorey, K. 1997A visuospatial “phonological loop” in working memory: Evidence from American Sign LanguageMemory & Cognition25313320Google Scholar
  55. Zesiger, P., Orliaguet, J., Boë, L., Mounoud, P. 1994The influence of syllabic structure in handwriting and typing productionFaure, C.Keuss, P.Lorette, G.Vinter, A. eds. Advances in handwriting and drawing: A multidisciplinary approachEuropiaParis389401Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guido Nottbusch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Angela Grimm
    • 2
  • Rüdiger Weingarten
    • 1
  • Udo Will
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty for Linguistics and LiteratureUniversity of BielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Institute of LinguisticsUniversity of PotsdamGermany
  3. 3.School of Music, Cognitive EthnomusicologyOhio State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations