Please login first
Writing Units or Decades First in Two Digit Numbers Dictation Task: The Case of Arabic an Inverted Language.
* 1 , 2
1  Arab Center for Mind, Brain & Behavior (ACMBB)
2  Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
Academic Editor: Stephen Meriney


In Arabic, two-digit numbers are read from right to left, i.e. the unit digit precedes the decade digit (24 = four and twenty) in accordance to the text reading and writing direction but opposite to the math direction (left-to-right).

The current study investigated the effect of the syntactic representation of numbers in Arabic on the task of transcoding two-digit numbers from dictation. The study participants were primary, junior-high and high school pupils in addition to higher education students with Arabic as their first language. They performed transcoding task, namely writing two-digit numbers from dictation. Units first\decades first writing patterns were collected depending on the differential syntactics structure evident in the two-digit number dictated (Teens numbers-units first, Identical units and decades- units first, Whole tens- decades firs, the rest remaining two-digit numbers-units first).

The findings reveal that in general Arabic speakers adopt decades first writing pattern of two-digit numbers especially when it is consistent with syntactic structure of two-digit numbers as in whole tens. This first decade writing pattern becomes more evident in junior-high school, high school and higher education since the proficiency and skills in math, second and third languages improves. However, this pattern is modulated depending on a complexity of the units and decades structure that requires more working memory capacity. This complexity is more pronounced in two-digit numbers, where the numerical syntactic structure is more evident than in numbers with a less prominent numerical syntactic structure (numbers 19-12) or in identical units and decades numbers compared to the remaining two-digit numbers category (with an evident syntactic structure of units and decades). Additionally, influences were claimed because of the consistency or inconsistency between the reading direction of text (Right-to-Left), two-digit numbers reading (Right-to-Left) in Arabic and math writing direction taught (Left-to-Right) placing less or more load on working memory.

Keywords: Two-digit numbers; Transcoding; Arabic; Dictation; Verbal numbers; Units, Decades