Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 10: 323–357, 1998.
Form and sound similarity effects in kanji recognition
, H. MASUDA
& M. KAWAKAMI
Cognitive Informatics Unit, Graduate School of Human Informatics, Nagoya University,
School of Education, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
Abstract. Four experiments are reported here to address the question of whether ﬁgurative and
phonological processing based on sub-word components (radicals) interact in the recognition
of Japanese kanji characters. A delayed matching task was used in which two brieﬂy exposed
‘source’ characters (e.g.,
), each made up by two radicals, were followed by a probe
) which in critical conditions was different from the source characters. The
task of the subject was to decide whether the probe was one of the two source characters.
When a probe was ﬁguratively similar to the source display, the homophonic relatedness
between source and probe characters elicited more false responses to the probe. However, no
homophony effect was found when the probe was dissimilar to the source display. Further, the
false alarm rates in the homophone condition with ﬁgurative similarity was shown to be sensi-
tive to proportion of homophonous trials in negative sets. The results suggest that phonological
information of both whole character and of components was automatically activated despite
experimental tasks in which subjects were given little incentive to execute phonetic processing.
It is concluded that the interaction of ﬁgurative and phonological processing is due to mutual
activation of the whole character and its radical(s) in the process of word identiﬁcation in
kanji. The results are considered within an interactive-activation framework with fore- and
background activation device in multilevels.
Key words: Kanji recognition and matching, Figurative and phonological similarity, Homophony
effect, Activation of whole character and radicals
C.K. Leong & K. Tamaoka (eds.), Cognitive Processing of the Chinese
and the Japanese Languages, pp. [169–203]
© 1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Traditional models of word recognition assume that the phonological proper-
ties of a visually presented word can be arrived at in at least two ways (see
e.g., Humphreys, Evett & Taylor 1982). One way is by looking up stored
phonological information after identifying the word visually (a lexical route);
the other is by rule-governed translation of the word’s orthographic code
(a non-lexical route). The divergence of scheme on phonological process-
ing may be addressed in two trends in studies of visual word recognition:
one is a trend of serial processing which assumes that information ﬂows
from ﬁgurative properties to semantic ones with (or without) phonological
properties of the word. The other is the assumption that representations of
the lexicon are located in absolute memory-address and accessed by holistic
[ 169 ]