Linguistics Colloquium: Amalia Bar-On, Yasmin Shalhoub-Awwad and Galit Ben-Zvi

18/06/2019 - 14:00 - 15:30

Title: Learning to Read Arabic and Hebrew: Similar Challenges, Similar Solutions, Different Developmental Trajectories


Novice Arabic and Hebrew-speaking readers learn a transparent-mashkul/pointed script, which represents vowels by letters and vowel-signs and move on to read an opaque-non-mashkul/unpointed text, where vowels are represented partially, using letters alone.  Recovering vowels rely on the morpho-orthographic structure of the Semitic word. The dual nature of the two orthographies provides a useful platform for testing the still-vague interaction between phonology and morphology in learning to read. We'll present two studies, one on Arabic and the second one on Hebrew, both made use of the same methodology, aiming to better understand the relative contribution of phonological and morphological information in the two critical phases of reading acquisition: 2nd and 4th grades. Findings within and between languages indicate a similar pattern of establishing morpho-orthographic identification strategies at the expense of ignoring phonological information (i.e., vowel-signs). However, the two language groups demonstrate different developmental trajectories. We conclude by saying that Arabic- and Hebrew-speaking readers face a similar challenge - filling in the missing vowel information, and they apply the same corresponding solution - morpho-orthographic identification strategy, yet the developmental path of this strategy is influenced by the specific features of each language and its orthography.


Amalia Bar-On, Department of Communication Disorders, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University

Yasmin Shalhoub-Awwad, Department of Learning Disabilities, Faculty of Education, and Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, University of Haifa

Galit Ben-Zvi, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Health Profession, Ono Academic College.


Place: Building 507 room 106


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