Spoken words activate native and non-native letter-to-sound mappings: Evidence from eye tracking

Viorica Marian, James Bartolotti, Natalia L. Daniel, Sayuri Hayakawa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many languages use the same letters to represent different sounds (e.g., the letter P represents /p/ in English but /r/ in Russian). We report two experiments that examine how native language experience impacts the acquisition and processing of words with conflicting letter-to-sound mappings. Experiment 1 revealed that individual differences in nonverbal intelligence predicted word learning and that novel words with conflicting orthography-to-phonology mappings were harder to learn when their spelling was more typical of the native language than less typical (due to increased competition from the native language). Notably, Experiment 2 used eye tracking to reveal, for the first time, that hearing non-native spoken words activates native language orthography and both native and non-native letter-to-sound mappings. These findings evince high interactivity in the language system, illustrate the role of orthography in phonological learning and processing, and demonstrate that experience with written form changes the linguistic mind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105045
JournalBrain and Language
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Eye tracking
  • Letter-to-sound mapping
  • Orthography
  • Parallel activation
  • Phonology
  • Phonology-to-orthography mapping
  • Visual world paradigm
  • Word learning
  • Word processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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