The role of vowel signs in Hebrew: Beyond word recognition

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    After third grade of elementary school, native Hebrew speakers in Israel gradually become expert in reading two kinds of writing systems: the one they start with that contains signs for every phoneme of the spoken language, and another, to which they are steadily introduced, beginning with the second grade, which omits most vowels, together with few consonantal distinctions. Earlier studies indicate that single voweled words are read faster than unvoweled words, particularly in a naming task. This study examined another possible contribution of vowel signs in reading Hebrew: Its effect on memory and comprehension. It was assumed that if subvocalization facilitates memory of words while reading, and if vowel signs facilitate phonological processing, as is perhaps the case in naming tasks, then vowelization may intensify the processing of the articulatory loop and this should improve memory and comprehension. Our first two experiments assessed the contribution of vowel signs to the memory of word lists in either recognition memory or word recall tasks. The third experiment examined the contribution of vowel signs to the reading of connected texts. We found that vowel signs speeded up recognition memory of words in third graders, and improved the recall of words printed in the context of mixed lists in sixth graders. We also found that vowelization improved memory and comprehension of some prose texts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)301-319
    Number of pages19
    JournalReading and Writing
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Aug 1999


    • Hebrew
    • Memory
    • Phonological processing
    • Subvocalization
    • Text comprehension

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
    • Education
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Speech and Hearing


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