Spelling-Sound Consistency at the French Elementary School   
The Contribution of morphology   
ManulexMorpho is a new lexical database allowing to evaluate difficulties in grapheme-phoneme mappings for words occuring in French elementary school readers, while considering the morphological status of orthographic and phonological strings

In alphabetic writing systems, the consistency of grapheme-phoneme (GP) and phoneme-grapheme (PG) relations is a key factor in learning to read and write. The difficulty of the tasks facing beginning readers/spellers iimage flottanten different orthographies is typically estimated using quantitative data on the consistency of GP or PG relations in the written words to which children are exposed. However, until now, these relations have been examined independently of morphological analysis. The current available quantitative estimates may therefore provide an incomplete picture of the GP and PG consistency of the words included in the books used in elementary schools in France. The Manulex_Morpho database (Peereman, Sprenger-Charolles, & Messaoud-Galusi, 2013) was therefore generated to examine the contribution of morphological information (mainly inflectional morphology) to the consistency of GP and PG correspondences in a set of nearly 10,000 words (from Lété et al., 2004), corresponding to approximately 98% of the words encountered by children in French primary school readers (textual occurrences).

Four categories of morphological cues were used to mark graphemes and phonemes. The vast majority related to word finals. A particular source of difficulty in learning the French morphological system lies in the prevalence of inflectional morphemes that remain silent in speech. For instance, the markers for gender (final -e) and number (finimage flottanteal -s, -x for nouns, final -ent for verbs) are not pronounced in normal speech, and phonological word forms are often homophonic. Morphological cues were used for graphemes and phonemes corresponding to 1) gender and number inflections, 2) verbal inflections, 3) the grapheme -ent and its corresponding pronunciation when occurring in adverbs ending with the derivation -ment (e.g., rarement, rarely), 4) final consonants that can be silent in the word, but heard in inflected or derived words (e.g., -d in grand-grande-grandeur). Altogether, 7,456 grapheme-phoneme associations were morphologically marked, distributed over 6,377 words (64% of the lexical corpus). The stronger inconsistencies previously observed for word-final than for word-internal graphemes and phonemes (Lété et al., 2008; Peereman et al. 2007) vanished when morphological markers were considered. Thus, taking words’ morphemic composition into account reduces GP and PG ambiguities in reading and spelling.

The Manulex_Morpho database (in excel format) provides the consistency values of GP and PG mappings for each of the words considered in the study. A list of the different GP and PG associations in the word corpus is given in a separate file, together with their corresponding frequency and consistency values. This list can be useful to estimate consistency of GP or PG mappings in pseudowords or in words not included in the Manulex_morpho corpus. These analyses should facilitate the manipulation and control of consistency variables based on objective data in empirical studies, and the development of instructional programs in keeping with the distributional characteristics of the orthography.

Several variants of the Manulex_morpho database are available. The first difference relates to the word frequency index used in the computations. In the analyses initially realized (described in Peereman et al., 2013), consistency of GP and PG mappings was weighted by the U textual frequency values reported in Lété, Sprenger-Charolles, and Colé (2004). image flottanteThe U index has the advantage over the F index (frequency per million words) to take into account the total frequency of occurrence of the words in the schoolbooks as well as the number of different books in which the words are encountered. However, for various reasons (e.g., cross-linguistic comparisons), the user may prefer to use consistency values weighted by the textual frequency per million words. This variant of Manulex_morpho is also available, based on the F frequency data (Lété et al., 2004) and reported per million words.

Finally, for each of these two variants, two different estimates were calculated according to how vowels (V) were distinguished. Indeed, in Peereman et al. (2013), consistency values were derived after removal of several distinctions between vowels (e. g., open vs. closed “o”, see the user manual for details). However, depending on their objective, users may prefer to use consistency values which preserve these distinctions. Both types of estimates are available. Additional information is presented in the user manual and in the manuscript.



Lété, B., Sprenger-Charolles, L., & Colé, P. (2004). MANULEX : A grade-level lexical database from French elementary-school readers. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 156-166.

Lété, B., Peereman, R. & Fayol, M. (2008). Consistency and word-frequency effects on spelling among first- to fifth-grade French children: A regression-based study. Journal of Memory and Language, 58, 952-977.

Peereman, R., Lété, B., & Sprenger-Charolles, L. (2007). Manulex-Infra: Distributional characteristics of grapheme-phoneme mappings, infra-lexical and lexical units in child-directed written material. Behavior Research Methods, 39 , 579-589 .

Peereman, R., Sprenger-Charolles, L., & Messaoud-Galusi, S. (2013). The contribution of morphology to the consistency of spelling-to-sound relations: A quantitative analysis based on French elementary school readers. L‘Année Psychologique.









The Manulex-Morpho database

Available files

Manulex_morpho database (.zip of excel files; 4 variants):

   As a function of U, not distinguishing V

   As a function of U, distinguishing V

   As a function of F, not distinguishing V

   As a function of F, distinguishing V

Frequency and consistency of GP and PG mappings (.zip of excel files; the file includes the results corresponding to each of the 4 variants)

User Manual

Peereman, R., Sprenger-Charolles, L., & Messaoud-Galusi, S. (2013). The contribution of morphology to the consistency of spelling-to-sound relations: A quatitative analysis based on French elementary school readers. L‘Année Psychologique.

(current version of Manulex_Morpho is ver.1.2)

Contact: ronald.peereman@upmf-grenoble.fr



Ronald Peereman, CNRS and Pierre Mendes-France University, LPNC (Laboratoire de Psychologie & NeuroCognition, UMR 5105), BP 47, 38040 Grenoble Cedex 9. France

Liliane Sprenger-Charolles, Associated CNRS and ParisDescartes University (LPP, Laboratoire Psychologie de la perception, UMR 8158, PRES Sorbonne-Paris-Cité, Labex EFL), France. CNRS and Aix-Marseille University, LPC (Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, UMR 7290, Bat 9, Case D, 3, place Victor Hugo, 13331 Marseille Cedex 1, France

Souhila Messaoud-Galusi, Research Triangle Institute (RTI International), Education Policy and Systems, 701 13th St NW, Suite 750 * Washington, DC 20005. USA




Access to previous analyses of GP and PG associations realized without considering morphology (Manulex_Infra database; Peereman, Lété, & Sprenger-Charolles, 2007)


An electronic version of Manulex_infra (Peereman, Lété, & Sprenger-Charolles, 2007) has been developped by Ortéga and Lété (2010)




  (december, 2012)