Biliteracy and acquisition of novel written words: the impact of phonological conflict between L1 and L2 scripts

Beatriz Bermúdez-Margaretto*, Grigory Kopytin, Andriy Myachykov, Yang Fu, Mikhail Pokhoday, Yury Shtyrov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


The acquisition of new orthographic representations is a rapid and accurate process in proficient monolingual readers. The present study used biliterate and bialphabetic population to address the impact of phonological inconsistencies across the native (L1) and second (L2) alphabets. Naming latencies were collected from 50 Russian-English biliterates through a reading-aloud task with familiar and novel word forms repeated across 10 blocks. There were three Script conditions: (1) native Cyrillic, (2) non-native Roman, and (3) Ambiguous (with graphically identical, but phonologically inconsistent graphemes shared by both alphabets). Our analysis revealed the main effect of Script on both reading and orthographic learning: naming latencies during training were longer for the ambiguous stimuli, particularly for the novel ones. Nonetheless, novel word forms in the ambiguous condition approached the latencies for the familiar words along the exposures, although this effect was faster in the phonologically consistent trials. Post-training tests revealed similarly successful performance patterns for previously familiar and newly trained forms, indicating successful rapid acquisition of the latter. Furthermore, we found the highest free recall rates for the ambiguous stimuli. Overall, our results indicate that phonological inconsistency initially interferes with the efficiency of novel word encoding. Nevertheless, it does not prevent efficient attribution of orthographic representations; instead, the knowledge of two distinct alphabets supports a more efficient learning and a better memory for ambiguous stimuli via enhancing their encoding and retrieval.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871–890
Number of pages20
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number3
Early online date18 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


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