Learning to Read a Semitic Abjad: The Triplex Model of Hebrew Reading Development

David L. Share, Amalia Bar-On

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce a model of Hebrew reading development that emphasizes both the universal and script-specific aspects of learning to read a Semitic abjad. At the universal level, the study of Hebrew reading acquisition offers valuable insights into the fundamental dilemmas of all writing systems—balancing the competing needs of the novice versus the expert reader (Share, 2008). At the script-specific level, pointed Hebrew initially employs supplementary vowel signs, providing the beginning reader a consistent, phonologically well-specified script while helping the expert-to-be unitize words and morphemes via (consonantal) spelling constancy. A major challenge for the developing Hebrew reader is negotiating the transition from pointed to unpointed Hebrew, with its abundance of homographs. Our triplex model emphasizes three phases of early Hebrew reading development: a progression from lower-order, phonological (sublexical) sequential spelling-to-sound translation (Phase 1, Grade 1) to higher-order, string-level (lexical) lexico-morpho-orthographic processing (Phase 2, Grade 2) followed, in the upper elementary grades, by a supralexical contextual level (Phase 3) essential for dealing with the pervasive homography of unpointed Hebrew.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-453
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2017.


  • Hebrew
  • development
  • orthography
  • reading
  • triplex
  • writing system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • General Health Professions


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