Characterization of reading errors in languages with different orthographic regularity: an Italian–English comparison

Chiara Valeria Marinelli, Cristina Romani, Victoria A. McGowan, Simona Giustizieri, Pierluigi Zoccolotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study examined whether a classification of errors based on Hendriks and Kolk’s (1997) proposal would effectively characterize the reading profile of children learning two orthographies varying for regularity, such as Italian and English. The study considered both an age-match and a grade-match comparison. Offline analysis of error production was carried out for two lists of stimuli: List 1 including regular words varying for frequency and matched non-words and List 2 including low-frequency words varying for regularity. In List 1, Italian-reading children made more multiple attempts characterized by a slow and progressive approach to the target (sounding-out behavior) than English-reading children, while the latter made relatively more word substitutions and non-word lexicalizations. As for List 2, Italian-reading children made relatively more multiple attempts and progressive approaches to the target compared to the English-reading children (with more sounding-out behaviors and syllabications), while the opposite occurred for phonological-visual errors, word substitutions, morphological, and semantic errors. Both groups showed a high proportion of phonological-visual and regularization errors (stress assignment in the case of Italian-reading children). Overall, the use of an error coding system specifically tuned to the characteristics of the orthographies investigated allowed a more comprehensive identification of reading difficulties which allowed the different strategies used by children of different languages to emerge more clearly (more reliance on sub-lexical routines in Italian readers and on lexical routines in English readers). These results call for more attention to error patterns in the identification of reading difficulties in children of different languages including those learning a transparent orthography where error analyses have largely been ignored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-120
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Cultural Cognitive Science
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Funding: Open access funding provided by Universita` di Foggia within the CRUI-CARE Agreement. The was partially supported by the grant PRIN (Research Project of National Interest) n. 20128YAFKB_004 (prof. Pierluigi Zoccolotti). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


  • Reading
  • Classification of errors
  • Orthography


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of reading errors in languages with different orthographic regularity: an Italian–English comparison'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this