Kohsom, C., & Gobet, F. (1997). Adding Spaces to an Unspaced Modern Language: Effects on Reading. (To appear in the Proceedings of the 19th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society)



Most research on reading has used Western languages, which have the property of being spaced. This paper examines how spacing and meaning affect reading in Thai, a modern, alphabetic and unspaced language. Results show that subjects were faster in reading and made less errors when spaces were added. Meaning facilitates reading as well, and does not interact with spacing. Finally, ability to read unspaced texts in Thai does not transfer to English. The results support the hypothesis that spaces, when present at all, offer perceptual cues that facilitate reading. Efficiency considerations raise the question of whether Thai should follow the example of Western languages and incorporate spaces and punctuation.