The Role of Morphological Decomposition in Reading Complex Words in Arabic in Elementary School Years

Ibrahim A. Asadi, Vered Vaknin‑Nusbaum, Haitham Taha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the role of morphological processing in the reading of inflections and derivations in Arabic, a morphologically-rich language, among 228 first-graders and 230 second-graders. All words were morphologically complex, with differences in number of morphemes and morphological transparency. Inflections consisted of three morphemes, with high transparency of the root morpheme, while derivations consisted of two morphemes with lower transparency of the root. Results indicated that, despite their matching in frequency and syllabic length, reading performances of derivations was better than those of inflections. That is, three-morphemic highly transparent inflections were read slower and involved more errors than bi-morphemic less transparent derivations. These differences in reading performance between inflectional and derivational words might suggest that Arab-speaking novice readers use a morphological decomposition process that is reflected in reading accuracy and fluency. The results highlight the important role morphology has in reading, even at a young age, along with reading acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2863-2876
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Arabic
  • Complex
  • Derivations
  • Fluency
  • Inflections
  • Morphological decomposition
  • Word-reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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