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Two experiments investigated the mechanisms underlying analogical transfer in the clue-word reading task developed by Goswami and her colleagues. Across both experiments, an equivalent number of "analogy" responses were made regardless of whether the clue word was seen or just heard. In addition, the number of "analogy" responses to words sharing both orthographic and phonological overlap with the clue words was no greater than that shown to words sharing only pronunciations. These results provide no evidence for the view that beginning readers make genuine orthographic-based analogies. Instead, the findings are interpreted within a framework in which phonological priming, in combination with the children's own partial decoding attempts based on limited orthographic knowledge, account for their performance on the clue-word task. It is concluded that the extent to which beginning readers make orthographic analogies is overestimated and as a consequence, theories that emphasize the importance of orthographic analogy as a mechanism driving the development of early reading skills need to be questioned.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Child Psychol

Publication Date





75 - 94


Child, Child Development, Child, Preschool, Cues, Female, Humans, Language, Learning, Male, Phonetics, Random Allocation, Reading, Vocabulary