Insights from the study of Arabic reading

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Language and Linguistics Compass


© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Current reading models were largely designed to explain findings from experiments of the reading of English and other European languages (Reichle, 2020, Computational models of reading: A handbook). Recent evidence from studies of other languages and writing systems (e.g., Chinese) has demonstrated the need to critically evaluate the assumptions of these models, and whether they are sufficient to explain the full range of findings related to reading, as required, for example, to understand the universal and specific cognitive principles that support reading. In this article, we review the recent behavioural and cognitive-neuroscience research on the reading of Arabic, a world language that until recently has received scant attention despite the fact that its writing system poses fundamental challenges for current models of reading. We also highlight the points of convergence and difference between what has been learned about the reading of Arabic and the reading of another, more widely studied Semitic language, Hebrew. We then discuss the theoretical implications of these findings for existing models of reading.

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