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The study focuses on the effect of the lexical-syntactic structure on the patterns of errors by Arab first graders in tasks involving reading two-digit number and writing two-digit numbers to dictation. Children made few change or omission errors, indicating that they had little problem with the lexical aspects of the counting system. However, they made frequent substitution errors (e.g., 23 for 32), especially in the number reading task, and especially for numbers that depended strongly on the numerical syntactic structure. Such errors were less common for decade numbers and for the 11–19 number range than for other two-digit numbers. The results suggest particular difficulty with the syntactic rather than lexical aspects of the counting system. The syntactic aspects may be particularly difficult for Arabic-speaking children, due to the inversion feature of the Arabic counting system.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology

Publication Date





161 - 178