The influence of the morphological structure of words on the dynamics of handwriting in adults and fourth and sixth grade children
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Grapheme and syllable units have been shown to influence the dynamics of handwriting in adults and children, but the influence of morphemes remains to be clarified. We tested the ability of French-speaking adults and fourth and sixth grade children to process the morphological structure of words during writing. They were asked to copy three types of words on a digitizer: morphologically complex words, morphologically simple words matched for the bigram at the syllabic boundary, and morphologically simple words matched for the bigram at the morphemic boundary. Latencies were shorter for morphologically complex words than for simple words only in adults. Requiring individuals to process morphological structure increased the time taken to write the letter before a morphemic boundary in adults and sixth graders. In contrast, fourth graders wrote the letter before the syllabic boundary more quickly for complex words than for simple words. These results indicate that words are represented in a decomposed form in the lexicon, and that the morphological structure of words regulates the dynamics of handwriting.
KeywordsHandwriting Morphology Copy task French
We thank France Loury (University of Poitiers, France) for her help in data collection, and the children and university students who participated in this study. We would also like to thank the three anonymous reviewers whose comments/suggestions helped improve and clarify this manuscript.
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