The Role of Morphology and Sentence Context in Word Processing for Adults with Low Literacy



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Both vocabulary skill and morphological complexity, or whether words can be broken down into root words and affixes, have a significant impact on word reading for adults with low literacy. In this project, I investigated the influence of morphological complexity, root word frequency, and context strength on vocabulary acquisition and word processing of adults with low literacy and higher and lower vocabulary depth skills. Overall, participants spent less time reading morphologically complex words with high-frequency root words than with low-frequency base words or inaccessible words. Marginally significant results showed readers spent less time on target words in supportive context sentences than neutral sentences. Vocabulary depth correlated with less time spent reading high-frequency base morphologically complex words, and with higher scores on the vocabulary acquisition task for all word types. This suggests both morphological awareness and vocabulary depth are important for word processing and reading comprehension in adults with low literacy.



morphology, sentence context, vocabulary depth, word processing, low literacy