The influence of orthography on Dutch children’s past tense production
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Background: Dyslexia is a language-based disorder. It probably stems from an underlying phonological deficit, which results in problems with phonological tasks. Besides that, research has shown that dyslexics also have subtle language impairments. The present study looked into the morpho-phonological process of past tense inflection and the impact of orthography. Aims: The main purpose was to compare the results of 9-year-old normal and poor readers on a past tense experiment in which the children had to inflect verbs and pseudo-verbs. An additional comparison was made with 6-year-old children and adults. The second research question was whether 9-year-old poor readers perform better on the past-tense experiment in the orthographic modality, where the stimuli were presented both auditorily and visually. Methods: The past tense experiment of Vreugdenhil (2010) was used to elicit the past tense of verbs and pseudo-verbs with stem-final obstruents. The participants were either exposed to an auditory or an orthographic version of the experiment. Results and outcomes: The results demonstrated that 9-year-old poor readers do not differ from normal readers on the number of correctly inflected past tense forms for either verbs or pseudo-verbs. They were equally good at producing the past tense overall. However, the 9-year-old normal readers performed better when orthography was provided, whereas the poor readers did not benefit from the orthography.