Reading across languages

During my PhD, I studied cognitive processes underlying skilled reading and reading acquisition in German and English. My PhD advisors were Eva Marinus, Anne Castles, and Max Coltheart. You can find the full text of my thesis, "Methodological and theoretical issues in cross-linguistic reading research" here, at the Macquarie University website.





Schmalz, X., Marinus, E., Coltheart, M., & Anne, A. (2015). Getting to the bottom of

orthographic depth. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 22(6). 1614-1629. doi: 10.3758/s13423-015-0835-2. Fulltext here.

Here, we argue that orthographic depth is not a single construct, but consists of at least two separable components: The complexity of print-to-speech correspondences, and the unpredictability of words' pronunciations given the print-to-speech correspondences.


Schmalz, X., Robidoux, S., Castles, A., Coltheart, M., & Marinus, A. (2017). German and English

bodies: No evidence for cross-linguistic differences in preferred grain size. Collabra, 3(1). 5. doi: 10.1525/collabra.72. Fulltext here.

According to the Psycholinguistic Grain Size Theory (Ziegler & Goswami, 2005), orthographic depth shifts the reliance on sublexical units. English readers should show stronger reliance on larger sublexical units rather (e.g., bodies) than smaller units (e.g, graphemes). German readers should show the reverse pattern, because Graphemes in German are already very predictive of a word's pronunciation. In eight experiments, we did not find support for this prediction. Data and analysis scripts here.


Schmalz, X., Marinus, E., Robidoux, S., Palethorpe, S., Castles, A., & Coltheart, M. (2014).

Quantifying the reliance on different sublexical correspondences in German and English. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 26(8). doi: 10.1080/20445911.2014.968161. Fulltext here.

With a lot of input from Serje Robidoux, we implemented an optimisation procedure which could use participants' nonword responses to estimate the extent to which they relied on different print-to-speech correspondences: context-independent GPCs, context-dependent GPCs, or body-rime correspondences.


Schmalz, X., Beyersmann, E., Cavalli, E., & Marinus, E. (2016). Unpredictability and complexity

of print-to-speech correspondences increase reliance on lexical processes: More evidence for the Orthographic Depth Hypothesis. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 28(6). 658-672 doi: 10.1080/20445911.2016.1182172. Fulltext here.

Here, we tested whether GPC complexity and unpredictability have similar effects for skilled reading aloud. French speakers read aloud words which varied in frequency and complexity, and English native speakers read aloud words which varied in frequency and unpredictability. Both sources lead to an increase in the size of the frequency effect, suggesting that both affect skilled reading processes by slowing down the sublexical route, allowing for more influence of the lexical route. Data and analysis scripts here.


Schmalz, X., Porshnev, A., & Marinus, E. (2017). Two distinct parsing stages in nonword

reading aloud: Evidence from Russian. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70(12). 2548-2559doi:10.1080/17470218.2016.1247895. Fulltext here.

We report a "whammy" effect in Russian: when the context of a grapheme-phoneme correspondence changes its pronunciation, nonword reading aloud latencies are slower compared to nonwords where all letters have a default pronunciation. Inserting visual disruptors did not interact with the presence or absence of a context-sensitive rule, suggesting that these two manipulations reflect independent processes. Data and analysis scripts here. Data and analysis scripts here.


Schmalz, X., de Simone, E., & Mulatti, C. (preprint). Rules and statistics in Italian. Preprint, data

and analysis script here

We find neither a "Whammy" effect nor a grapheme consistency effect in Italian. A visual disruptor affects the processing of context-sensitive rules, but not when the rule is phonotactic, i.e., relies on phonetic rather than phonological features.