Vowelling and semantic priming effects in Arabic

Nadia Mountaj, Radouane El Yagoubi, Majid Himmi, Faouzi Lakhdar Ghazal, Mireille Besson, Sami Boudelaa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In the present experiment we used a semantic judgment task with Arabic words to determine whether semantic priming effects are found in the Arabic language. Moreover, we took advantage of the specificity of the Arabic orthographic system, which is characterized by a shallow (i.e., vowelled words) and a deep orthography (i.e., unvowelled words), to examine the relationship between orthographic and semantic processing. Results showed faster Reaction Times (RTs) for semantically related than unrelated words with no difference between vowelled and unvowelled words. By contrast, Event Related Potentials (ERPs) revealed larger N1 and N2 components to vowelled words than unvowelled words suggesting that visual-orthographic complexity taxes the early word processing stages. Moreover, semantically unrelated Arabic words elicited larger N400 components than related words thereby demonstrating N400 effects in Arabic. Finally, the Arabic N400 effect was not influenced by orthographic depth. The implications of these results for understanding the processing of orthographic, semantic, and morphological structures in Modern Standard Arabic are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015


  • ERPs
  • Orthographic depth
  • Standard Arabic
  • Visual N400
  • Visual semantic priming
  • Vowelling effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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