Morphological units in the Arabic mental lexicon: Evidence from an individual with deep dyslexia

Ali Idrissi, Eva Kehayia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


An ongoing debate in Arabic morphology concerns the nature of the smallest unit governing lexical organization and representation in this language. A standard model maintains that Arabic words are typically analyzable into a three-consonantal root morpheme carrying the core meaning of words and a prosodic template responsible mostly for grammatical information. This view has been largely supported by research in both theoretical linguistics and psycholinguistics. An alternative theory holds that the meaning of words in Arabic is, rather, encoded in the 'etymon' comprising two unordered consonants of the root only. Results from a recent priming experiment have shown that the etymon induces strong morphological priming effects, supporting its morphological/lexical status. In this paper we present data from a patient with deep dyslexia questioning the role of the etymon as a psychologically real representational unit in Arabic and arguing, instead, for the central role of the root in both morphological and lexical representation in this language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-197
Number of pages15
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Arabic
  • Deep dyslexia
  • Etymons
  • Mental lexicon
  • Non-concatenative morphology
  • Roots
  • Speech errors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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