Reading and Writing

, Volume 19, Issue 7, pp 651–668 | Cite as

Prefix identification in the reading of Dutch bisyllabic words



Two experiments were conducted in order to explore the role of prefix identification in the reading of Dutch bisyllabic words. Although Dutch orthography is highly regular, several deviations from a one-to-one correspondence exist. A case in point is the grapheme E which can represent the vowels ε, e and œ in polysyllabic words. In Experiment 1, 33 third-grade children and 46 sixth-grade children were presented a list of randomly ordered bisyllabic words starting with the letter string BE and the first syllable being (1) a real prefix, (2) a phonological prefix (same sound pattern as a prefix), or (3) a pseudoprefix (sound pattern deviant from a prefix). Pseudowords starting with the same letter string were also presented. The results showed that words starting with a real or a phonological prefix were identified more accurately than words starting with a pseudoprefix. For the pseudowords, a predominant interpretation of the first part as a prefix was also evidenced. In Experiment 2, a lexical decision task was administered to 35 third-grade children, 33 sixth-grade children, and 26 adults. Words with a phonological prefix and words with a pseudoprefix were randomly presented along with other word types. The data showed both children and adults to retrieve words with phonological prefixes more quickly and more accurately than words with a pseudoprefix. The results are discussed with reference to current models of word decoding.


Dutch orthography Lexical decision Morphological processing Prefix identification 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ludo Verhoeven
    • 1
  • Robert Schreuder
    • 1
  • Vera Haarman
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioural Science InstituteRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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