The contribution of basic linguistic skills to handwriting among fifth-grade Arabic-speaking children

Afnan Khoury-Metanis, Ibrahim A. Asadi, Asaid Khateb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has attempted to characterise the contribution of motor, cognitive, and linguistic variables to handwriting. In this study, we aimed at assessing the contribution of basic linguistic skills (namely phonological processing, orthographic knowledge and morphology awareness) to the three dimensions of handwriting (i.e. legibility, speed and spelling) in the same participants. For this purpose, 200 normally developing fifth-grade children, in whom motor variables are hypothesised to play little role in handwriting, participated in this study. Handwriting (text copy and dictation) and other linguistic measures (testing phonology, orthography and morphology) were subjected to regression analyses. These showed that the same linguistic measures contributed differently to the various dimensions of handwriting and explained 26%, 13% and 57% of the variance in legibility, speed and spelling respectively. These findings indicated that legibility and speed were relatively poorly explained and emphasise the need to include other linguistic and non-linguistic variables in the study of handwriting in this age group. Future research on Arabic should developmentally investigate handwriting from earlier stages of skill acquisition and assess the contribution of linguistic, cognitive and motor factors, not only to text copy and dictation but also to other tasks such as free writing and written expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-110
Number of pages16
JournalWriting Systems Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Arabic orthography
  • morphological knowledge
  • orthographical knowledge
  • phonemic segmentation
  • regression analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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