Learning to represent vowels in written Hebrew: Different factors across development

Dorit Ravid, Rachel Schiff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The study investigates novice and veteran Hebrew readers' perception of words containing a vowel letter in different orthographic and morphological contexts. In the first experiment, children and adults were asked to judge pointed words with different morphological structures with and without the grapheme W. Half of the words had consistent (obligatory) W and half had inconsistent (optional) W. In the second experiment, the same procedure was repeated using the same words without pointing marks. Response latencies and accuracy were measured. Accuracy scores improved with age and schooling, and at the same time lexical decision times dropped. Only expert adult readers found it easier to correctly identify words with consistent W than words with inconsistent W. Participants generally found it easier to reach a decision if the word contained a W, but in the pointed experiment adults alone were able to judge words correctly even when W was absent. Morphological structure affected all readers in the same way. The study supports a root-based view of Hebrew spelling. It also supports a reading/spelling processing model which claims that internal orthographic representations of words are increasingly strengthened with each exposure during reading, but not all graphemes are strengthened equally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-208
Number of pages24
JournalFirst Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


  • Gradeschool
  • Hebrew
  • Morphology
  • Reading
  • Spelling
  • Vowels


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