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Digit span reading rate and linguistic relativity






Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A Human Experimental Psychology 38(4): 739-752

Digit span reading rate and linguistic relativity

The relations between reading time and memory span were studied in four languages: English, Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic. Reading rate was measured either in speeded reading of digits or in normal-pace reading of stories. Faster speeded reading and normal-pace reading rates for a given language were associated with larger memory span for speakers of that language. These relations, which were shown to be monotonically related to the number of syllables or phonemes per item, extend the within-language word-length effect reported by Baddeley, Thomson and Buchanan (1975), across languages. In addition, these findings demonstrate a form of linguistic relativity: a relation between simple surface-structural features of language (number of syllables) and cognitive processing (memory span and reading rate). It is argued that this linguistic relativity may be limited by trade-offs between surface features and common linguistic practice.

Accession: 005161825

PMID: 3809578

DOI: 10.1080/14640748608401623

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