Learning to spell in Hebrew: Phonological and morphological factors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates children's developing knowledge of the Hebrew spelling system in view of the claim that language-specific typology affects the rate and the pattern of development of orthographic spelling. Hebrew is a morphologically synthetic language with a phonologically "deep" orthography, on the one hand, and a consistent representation of morphology in the spelling system, on the other. This paper focuses on the difference between representing content words versus grammatical words, and roots versus morphemic and attached function letters in written Hebrew. The paper describes two studies. In Study 1, compositions from gradeschool children (grade 1 through 6) were analyzed for types of spelling errors; in Study 2, children from grades 2-4 were administered a spelling task. Results indicate that grammatical words are spelled correctly before content words, and that within content words, the correct spelling of function letters precedes that of root letters. These differences are attributed to factors of transparency, consistency and frequency, coupled with gradeschoolers' growing perception of phonological and morphological patterning in Hebrew.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-485
Number of pages27
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Function letters
  • Hebrew
  • Morphology
  • Phonology
  • Root letters
  • Spelling


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