Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR) edition:17 location:Seminaris Campus Hotel Berlin, Germany date:7-10 July 2010
Purpose: An important claim in current theories on dyslexia is that children and adults with dyslexia have difficulties in encoding, maintaining, and retrieving phonological representations. These characteristics have often been assessed with a nonword repetition task (NRT). Previous studies on nonword repetition skills in dyslexics suggested that dyslexics produce more errors than non-dyslexics on the NRT, due to poor quality of their phonological representations. However, “poor quality" in this context remains a rather vague description. To study the nature of dyslexics’ phonological representations, the present study compared non-word repetition performance of young adult (16-years-olds) dyslexics and non-dyslexics focusing on the frequency and quality of their suprasegmental and segmental errors. Method: Nonword repetition (Scheltinga, 2003) data of 30 Dutch-speaking dyslexics and 30 non-dyslexics were analysed with respect to suprasegmental and segmental errors. Error analyses addressed the level of prosody, syllable retention and phoneme retention. Apart from substitution, omission, deletion errors we also focused on the difference between segment retrieval and representation by comparing the proportion of segments being correctly retrieved irrespective of syllable position versus the proportion of segments being correctly retrieved and correctly placed within the syllable (correct syllable encoding). Main finding Analysing the ratio of retrieval errors to encoding errors, we observed a significant difference between dyslexics and non-dyslexics. Interestingly, both groups did not differ with respect to the frequency of correctly retained segments in the NRT errors. Conclusion Our combined set of findings suggest that dyslexics’ weak phonological representations in the NRT may not crucially depend on poor retrieval of segments but on the encoding of location in the syllable structure. A replication study with 20 Dutch-speaking dyslexics and 20 non-dyslexics is currently being undertaken.