A tale of one letter: Morphological processing in early Arabic spelling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study examined spelling of the letter <t> in Arabic among first-, second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade native Arabic-speaking children (N = 150). The letter <t> is among the most frequent letters in Arabic and it participates in the encoding of three productive morphological entities: root, word-pattern and affix. The letter <t> is also homographic and may represent the default voiceless dental-alveolar stop phoneme /t/ as well as its emphatic allophonic variant [] coinciding, hence, with the phoneme typically represented by the letter <> . The study tested whether children use morphological cues in spelling the letter <t> in Arabic, and whether morphological processing is different for different morphemes and in different grades. The results indicate that morphological processing is functional very early on in Arabic spelling among children. Yet, morphological processing appears to depend on the specific morpheme targeted, with some morphemes lending themselves more strongly to morphological processing than others. The results are discussed within the framework of the morphological and morpho-orthographic structure of Arabic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-188
Number of pages20
JournalWriting Systems Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • Affix
  • Arabic
  • Morphological awareness
  • Morphological processing
  • Morphology
  • Root
  • Spelling
  • Word-pattern

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'A tale of one letter: Morphological processing in early Arabic spelling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this