- Six experiments explored the role of phonology in the activation of word meanings when words were embedded in meaningful texts. Specifically, the studies examined whether participants detected the substitution of a homophone mate for a contextually appropriate homophone. The frequency of the incorrect homophone, the frequency of the correct homophone, and the predictability of the correct homophone were manipulated. Also, the impact of reading skill was examined. When correct homophones were not predictable and participants had a range of reading abilities, the evidence indicated that phonology plays a role in activating the meanings of low-frequency words only. When the performance of good and poor readers was examined separately, the evidence indicated that good readers primarily activate the meanings of words using the direct route, whereas poor readers primarily activate the meanings of words using the phonological route.