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 character (e.g., ) 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 sensitive 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.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2004
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