Hemispheric asymmetry in word recognition for a right-to-left script: the case of Urdu Chapter uri icon


  • Cambridge University Press 2014. That aura of my kin of old, That aura of my kin of old, Soaked, suffused through and through, With fragrance that is but Urdu. Basheer Badr (translation by the first author): Urdu, a language widely spoken in north India and a national language of Pakistan, is a member of the Indo-European language family. For psycholinguists, Urdu is of particular interest because of its unique relationship with another South Asian language, Hindi. On the spoken level Urdu and Hindi are mutually intelligible and, in fact, highly overlapping languages, sharing a core phonology, lexicon and grammar. However, the two languages differ dramatically on the written level: Hindi, classified as an alphasyllabary, is a highly transparent orthography with discrete letters written from left to right in a script known as Devanagari; Urdu, an alphabetic writing system, is not as transparent in sound/symbol correspondence, and is written in a cursive style using a Perso-Arabic script. By comparing readers of Urdu with readers of Hindi one can isolate for study the effects of these script differences on word recognition. In addition, the fact that Urdu (like Hebrew, Arabic and Persian) is read and written from right to left makes it an interesting test case for claims about the nature of left/right cerebral hemisphere differences in word recognition that have been based largely on studies of left-to-right readers.

author list (cited authors)

  • Rao, C., Vaid, J., & Chen, H.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Rao, Chaitra||Vaid, Jyotsna||Chen, Hsin-Chin

Book Title


publication date

  • November 2014