Does visual letter similarity modulate masked form priming in young readers of Arabic?
Abu Mallouh, Reem
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Manuel Perea, Reem Abu Mallouh, Ahmed Mohammed, Batoul Khalifa, Manuel Carreiras, Does visual letter similarity modulate masked form priming in young readers of Arabic?, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 169, May 2018, Pages 110-117, ISSN 0022-0965, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2017.12.004.
We carried out a masked priming lexical decision experiment to study whether visual letter similarity plays a role during the initial phases of word processing in young readers of Arabic (fifth graders). Arabic is ideally suited to test these effects because most Arabic letters share their basic shape with at least one other letter and differ only in the number/position of diacritical points (e.g., ض - ص ;ظ - ط ;غ - ع ;ث - ت - ن ب ;ذ - د ;خ - ح - ج ;ق - ف ;ش - س ;ز - ر). We created two one-letter-different priming conditions for each target word, in which a letter from the consonantal root was substituted by another letter that did or did not keep the same shape (e.g., خدمة - حدمة vs. خدمة - فدمة). Another goal of the current experiment was to test the presence of masked orthographic priming effects, which are thought to be unreliable in Semitic languages. To that end, we included an unrelated priming condition. We found a sizable masked orthographic priming effect relative to the unrelated condition regardless of visual letter similarity, thereby revealing that young readers are able to quickly process the diacritical points of Arabic letters. Furthermore, the presence of masked orthographic priming effects in Arabic suggests that the word identification stream in Indo-European and Semitic languages is more similar than previously thought.