This study examines the effects of semantic and phonetic radicals on Chinese character decoding by high-intermediate level Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) learners. The results of the study suggest that the CFL learners tested have a well-developed semantic pathway to recognition; however, their phonological pathway is not yet a reliable means of character identification. Semantic radicals that correctly pertain to character meaning facilitated reaction time in semantic categorization tasks, while radicals that had no immediately interpretable relation to character meaning had a strong inhibitory effect. The relative accuracy of phonetic radicals (for predicting the whole-character’s pronunciation) did not measurably improve homonym recognition. In a lexical decision task (Experiment 3), the subjects were significantly slower in identifying pseudo-characters when the phonological component was blurred, indicating that, despite having unreliable phonological pathways to character recognition, the subjects were still using phonological radical analysis as their default recognition strategy; however, the author argues that the radical is likely being used for orthographic disambiguation more than for phonological properties.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 25, 2012
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