Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9: 65–78, 1997.
1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Reading in Arabic orthography: The effect of vowels and context
on reading accuracy of poor and skilled native Arabic readers
School of Education, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Israel
Abstract. This study investigated the effect of Arabic vowels and Arabic context on reading
accuracy of poor and skilled native Arabic readers reading narrative stories and newspaper
articles. Central to this study is the belief that reading theory today should consider additional
variables, especially when explaining the reading process in Arabic orthography among poor
and skilled readers. This orthography has not been studied: reading theory today is the sum of
conclusions from studies conducted in Latin orthography. The subjects were 109 tenth-grade
native Arabic speakers, 39 of them poor readers and 70 skilled readers. Subjects had to read
Arabic narrative stories and newspaper articles. There were four reading conditions for each
text type: vowelized text, unvowelized text, vowelized word naming, and unvowelized word
naming. The results showed that vowels and contexts were important variables to facilitate
word recognition in poor and skilled readers in Arabic orthography. A new Arabic reading
model for skilled readers is suggested.
Key words: Arabic orthography, Vowels, Interactive-dynamic reading, Skilled readers, Poor
Reading psychologyresearchnotes that poor readers rely more on the reading
context than skilled readers (Bruck 1990; Perfetti 1985; Schwantes 1985;
Simpon & Foster 1986; Stanovich 1980, 1986; Stanovich & Freeman 1981;
West & Stanovich 1978). These studies were conducted in Latin orthog-
raphy, while other orthographies, for example, Arabic, have not been studied.
This raises the probability that different orthographies may provide different
context effects for poor and skilled readers.
The study also investigates the inﬂuence of vowels in Arabic orthography
on reading accuracy among poor and skilled readers. The problem does not
exist in languages written in Latin orthography because vowels are part of the
alphabet and texts cannot be presented without them. In Arabic vowels are
not part of the alphabet, and skilled readers are presented with unvowelized
Arabic words are based on trilateral (three-letter) roots, and various deriv-
atives are formed by the addition of afﬁxes and vowels. Many of them look
identical (homographs) if they are written without vowels (Abu-Rabia &
VICTORY: PIPS No.: 119102 LAWKAP
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