Reading and Writing

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 615–646 | Cite as

What do spelling errors tell us? Classification and analysis of errors made by Greek schoolchildren with and without dyslexia

  • Athanassios ProtopapasEmail author
  • Aikaterini Fakou
  • Styliani Drakopoulou
  • Christos Skaloumbakas
  • Angeliki Mouzaki


In this study we propose a classification system for spelling errors and determine the most common spelling difficulties of Greek children with and without dyslexia. Spelling skills of 542 children from the general population and 44 children with dyslexia, Grades 3–4 and 7, were assessed with a dictated common word list and age-appropriate passages. Spelling errors were classified into broad categories, including phonological (graphophonemic mappings), grammatical (inflectional suffixes), orthographic (word stems), stress assignment (diacritic), and punctuation. Errors were further classified into specific subcategories. Relative proportions for a total of 11,364 errors were derived by calculating the opportunities for each error type. Nondyslexic children of both age groups made primarily grammatical and stress errors, followed by orthographic errors. Phonological and punctuation errors were negligible. Most frequent specific errors were in derivational affixes, stress diacritics, inflectional suffixes, and vowel historical spellings. Older children made fewer errors, especially in inflectional suffixes. Dyslexic children differed from nondyslexic ones in making more errors of the same types, in comparable relative proportions. Spelling profiles of dyslexic children did not differ from those of same-age children with poor reading skills or of younger children matched in reading and phonological awareness. In conclusion, spelling errors of both dyslexic and nondyslexic children indicate persistent difficulty with internalizing regularities of the Greek orthographic lexicon, including derivational, inflectional, and word (stem) families. This difficulty is greater for children with dyslexia.


Spelling Spelling errors Error classification Dyslexia Greek 



We are grateful to Fani Sakellaropoulou for help in spelling error classification and to Vassiliki Diamanti, George K. Georgiou, and Panagiotis G. Simos for comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 543 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Athanassios Protopapas
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Aikaterini Fakou
    • 1
  • Styliani Drakopoulou
    • 1
  • Christos Skaloumbakas
    • 2
  • Angeliki Mouzaki
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Language and Speech ProcessingMaroussiGreece
  2. 2.Children’s Hospital “Aglaia Kyriakou”AthensGreece
  3. 3.University of CreteRethimnoGreece
  4. 4.Department of Philosophy and History of Science (MITHE)University of AthensAthensGreece

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