Article published in:Process and Acquisition of Written Language
Edited by Robert Schreuder and Ludo Verhoeven
[Written Language & Literacy 7:1] 2004
► pp. 61–77
Still errors after all those years ...
Limited attentional resources and homophone frequency account for spelling errors on silent verb suffixes in Dutch
We review some of our research findings on verb spelling errors in Dutch. The spelling of Dutch regularly inflected verb forms is governed by rules of the simple concatenative type (stem + suffix). The spelling of a subset of these verb forms is determined by morpheme-based analogy, both at the level of the stem-final letter and at the level of the inaudible (i.e., silent) suffix. This subset of verb forms causes many spelling problems, both in the learning stage and in the spelling process of experienced spellers. Our research identifies two sources of these errors. First, the error risk results from the time-consuming nature of the cognitive operations needed for spelling the silent suffix. Second, the errors follow a particular pattern: the typical error is a homophonic verb spelling form which has a higher frequency of occurrence in the Dutch written language than the target form. This homophone frequency effect shows that regularly inflected verb forms with silent suffixes have their own orthographic representation in the mental lexicon, even though they are fully predictable by rule.
Published online: 30 July 2004
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