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Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2008 Jul;61(7):977-85. doi: 10.1080/17470210801943978.

Why did I right that? Factors that influence the production of homophone substitution errors.

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Department of Psychology, College of Charleston, 57 Coming Street, Charleston, SC 29424, USA.


Despite considerable research on language production errors involving speech, little research exists in the complementary domain of writing. Two experiments investigated the production of homophone substitution errors, which occur when a contextually appropriate word (e.g., beech) is replaced with its homophone (e.g., beach tree). Participants wrote down auditorily presented sentences containing dominant or subordinate homophones. Homophones were preceded by a lexical prime that overlapped in phonology and orthography (e.g., teacher) or only orthography (e.g., headmaster) with the target homophone. Results showed more substitution errors when the context elicited a subordinate homophone than when it elicited a dominant homophone. Furthermore, both types of primes equivalently increased production of homophone errors relative to control words (e.g., lawyer), suggesting that only orthographic overlap between the prime and target was necessary to influence errors. These results are explained within dual-route models of spelling, which postulate an interaction between lexical and sublexical routes when spelling.

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