Can the word superiority effect be modulated by serial position and prosodic structure?
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In this study, we examined the word superiority effect in Arabic and English, two languages with significantly different morphological and writing systems. Thirty-two Arabic-English bilingual speakers performed a post-cued letter-in-string identification task in words, pseudo-words, and non-words. The results established the presence of the word superiority effect in Arabic and a robust effect of context in both languages. However, they revealed that, compared to the non-word context, word and pseudo-word contexts facilitated letter identification more in Arabic than in English. In addition, the difference between word and pseudo-word contexts was smaller in Arabic compared to English. Finally, there was a consistent first-letter advantage in English regardless of the context, while this was more consistent only in the word and pseudo-word contexts in Arabic. We discuss these results in light of previous findings and argue that the differences between the patterns reported for Arabic and English are due to the qualitative difference between word morphophonological representations in the two languages.