Previous research supports the view that initial letter position has a privileged role in comparison to internal letters for visual-word recognition in Roman script. The current study examines whether this is the case for Thai. Thai is an alphabetic script in which ordering of the letters does not necessarily correspond to the ordering of a word's phonemes. Furthermore, Thai does not normally have interword spaces. We examined whether the position of transposed letters (internal, e.g., porblem, vs. initial, e.g., rpoblem) within a word influences how readily those words are processed when interword spacing and demarcation of word boundaries (using alternatingbold text) is manipulated. The eye movements of 54 participants were recorded while they were reading sentences silently. There was no apparent difference in degree of disruption caused when reading initial and internal transposed-letter nonwords. These findings give support to the view that letter position encoding in Thai is relatively flexible and that actual identity of the letter is more critical than letter position. This flexible encoding strategy is in line with the characteristics of Thai—that is, the flexibility in the ordering of the letters and the lack of interword spaces, which creates a certain level of ambiguity in relation to the demarcation of word boundaries. These findings point to script-specific effects operating in letter encoding in visual-word recognition and reading.
Winskel, H, Perea, M & Ratitamkul, T 2012, 'On the flexibility of letter position coding during lexical processing: evidence from eye movements when reading Thai', The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, vol. 65, no. 8, pp. 1522-1536.
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