Making reading easier: The Influence of Vowelization in a Deep Language Orthography on Online Text Comprehension

Yoram Eshet, Karen Precel, Ronit Webman, Batsheva Engelberg-Behr

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The rapid growth in present-day communication technologies has led to an accelerating shift in reading habits, from print to digital-online. Due to design and usability constraints that involve online reading, such as hyperlinks, scrolling and line-length, it is of great importance to improve readability and accessibility of online information, particularly (1) in deep orthography languages, which often lack correspondence between letters and sounds (Frost, Katz & Bentin, 1987); (2) in countries where multiple languages are spoken; and (3) for people with reading disabilities. The Hebrew language is an ancient deep-orthography language that uses a punctuation system (diacritical marks) which provides vowel information to improve readability and comprehension, especially for low-frequency words (Koriat, 1994; Frost, Bentin & Katz, 1987), borrowed words (Birnboim & Share, 1995), and words that are ambiguous without vowels: the same sequence of letters produces two different pronunciations and meanings (Frost, 1995). Vowelization is most important for children at the early stages of learning Hebrew (Shimron, 1993), for nonnative Hebrew speakers, for individuals with reading difficulties (Gvion & Friedmann, 2001, Birnboim & Share, 1995), and when reading under time constraints. To date, most studies have tested the readability of single words. The effect of vowelization on the readability of words in context has not been tested or standardized. The present study examines the effect of online text vowelization of Hebrew words in context on reading among native Hebrew speakers and speakers of Hebrew as a second language. Results will facilitate the determination of criteria for vowelization to improve online reading. In a country that unites individuals with various language backgrounds (i.e. Arab-Israelis, immigrants from Russia and other countries) and that stands at the forefront of technology, it is most important to create a readable, accessible and thus usable computerized environment. The characteristics of the Hebrew language enable us to examine the conditions under which vowelization may contribute to the minimization of on-line reading errors, which will allow creating such a computerized environment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman-Computer Interaction
Subtitle of host publicationHCI Intelligent Multimodal Interaction Environments - 12th International Conference, HCI International 2007, Proceedings
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Pages 969-974
Number of pages6
EditionPART 4
ISBN (Print)9783540731092
StatePublished - 2007
Event12th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCI International 2007 - Beijing, China
Duration: 22 Jul 200727 Jul 2007

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
NumberPART 4
Volume4553 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference12th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCI International 2007


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