In focusing on English and Hebrew writing systems, I suggest that writing systems could function without vowels, but once introduced the vowels are useful for (a) disambiguating homophones and homographs, (b) marking the pronunciation of other phonemes that may be pronounced in various manners, (c) facilitating the parsing of sublexical elements, and (d) signifying phonological information. Relating the studies reviewed to a new approach in word-recognition research, I argue that the role of vowels is additive (sometimes complementary, sometimes redundant) to the roles of other cues facilitating word recognition. The decoding of unvoweled words does not necessarily exclude phonological processing, and the decoding of voweled words may benefit from lexical input. I also suggest that the viability of reading unvoweled print is restricted by the features of word morphology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychology (all)