Testing the interdependence hypothesis among native adult bilingual Russian-English students

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English and Russian are two different orthographies, the former being an opaque orthography, the latter being considered a direct letter-sound language. This study investigated the relationship between reading, syntactic, orthographic, and working memory skills in the two orthographies. Participants were first-year BA students of English (age range 25-30) at the University of Haifa who had completed high school in Russia. They were tested individually, in Russian and English, on working memory, spelling, oral cloze, visual condition, phonological condition, orthographic skills, word attack, and word identification. The results indicated positive significant correlations within and across languages, except for the orthographic skills and some of the correlations of the visual skills. The orthographic skills correlated highly significantly within each language but not across languages. Almost all the other linguistic skills correlated significantly within and across languages. Multiple regression procedures revealed that phonological and spelling skills in Russian, the first language, were strong predictors of word identification in English, the second language. These results are discussed in light of the interdependence and the script-dependent hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-455
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Bilingual language skills
  • Deep orthography
  • Different orthographies
  • Interdependence hypothesis
  • Shallow orthography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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