Prevalence of Spelling Errors Affects Reading Behavior Across Languages

Victor Kuperman*, Amalia Bar-On, Raymond Bertram, Rober Boshra, Avital Deutsch, Aki Juhani Kyröläinen, Barbara Mathiopoulou, Gaisha Oralova, Athanassios Protopapas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This cross-linguistic study investigated the impact of spelling errors on reading behavior in five languages (Chinese, English, Finnish, Greek, and Hebrew). Learning theories predict that correct and incorrectspelling alternatives (e.g., “tomorrow” and “tommorrow”) provide competing cues to the sound andmeaning of a word: The closer the alternatives are to each other in their frequency of occurrence, themore uncertain the reader is regarding the spelling of that word. An information-theoretic measure ofentropy was used as an index of uncertainty. Based on theories of learning, we predicted that higher entropywould lead to slower recognition of words even when they are spelled correctly. This predictionwas confirmed in eye-tracking sentence-reading experiments in five languages widely variable in theirwriting systems’ phonology and morphology.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1974-1993
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association


  • Cross-linguistic studies
  • Eye movements
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Spelling


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