The Structure of Arabic Language and Orthography

Elinor Saiegh-Haddad, Roni Henkin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter was designed to promote our understanding of the triangulation, in Arabic, of language, orthography and reading. We focus on topics in the structure of the Arabic language and orthography that pertain to literacy research and practice. It is agreed that the development of basic reading skills is influenced by linguistic (mainly phonological and morpho-syntactic) and orthographic variation among languages. Therefore, the chapter devotes particular attention to these aspects of the linguistic structure of Arabic and to the way this structure is represented in the Arabic orthography. Further, in light of the importance of oral language processing skills in the acquisition of reading, the chapter also discusses Arabic diglossia: it describes the linguistic distance between Colloquial or Spoken Arabic and Standard or Literary Arabic, the primacy of Standard Arabic linguistic structures in the written form of the language, and the effect of this on several linguistic processes in literacy acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Arabic literacy: insights and perspectives
EditorsElinor Saiegh-Haddad, R. Malatesha Joshi
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


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