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Reading Chinese Pseudo-characters: An Account of Word Recognition Models

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Mark Tang

on 8 April 2015

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Transcript of Reading Chinese Pseudo-characters: An Account of Word Recognition Models

Reading Chinese Pseudo-characters:
An Account of Word Recognition Models


Studies the psychological and neuropsychological aspects of language acquisition and representations in the mind.
Concerned with understanding the Universality of language

Chinese and Psycholinguistics
Models of Character Recognition
Lexical Constituency Model (Perfetti & Tan, 1999).
Hypothesis and Aims
The Lexical Constituency Model
Chinese Characters
88 native adult Mandarin speakers were recruited to complete an online experiment where they were asked to name 40 pseudo-characters (20 horizontal and 20 vertical)

Using a 2x2 within subjects design, each participant will be presented a total of 40 pseudo-characters (20 horizontal and 20 vertical) which they must name using pinyin. The independent variables are: character structure (Horizontal vs. Vertical) and pronunciation (Stem vs. Type). The dependent variable is response frequency.

Online experiment. Chinese to pinyin translation exercise. Name 40 pseudo-characters.

A 2 x 2 within subjects ANOVA with Structure (Horizontal vs. Vertical) and Pronunciation (Stem vs Type) as the factors and frequency of pronunciation outcome was the criterion variable was used to analyze the data.

What are they?

Characters that do not exist in the Chinese language.

Therefore they have no lexical representation


They are created from existing radicals that appear in legal positions

They can therefore activate their sub-lexical representations.

Priming vs. Naming

Composed of interlocking strokes and arranged in a square format
Each corresponds to a syllable (the basic unit of Chinese phonology) and a morpheme (one basic unit of meaning)
Psycholinguistic Research
Stem vs Type
Thanks for Listening.
Hierarchical Interactive-Activation Model (Taft, 2006)
Rationale for Chinese

Research in Chinese became of interest in the 1980s - 90s
Primary understandings of word recognition and language processes have been developed from alphabetic-writing systems
Chinese was adopted as the comparative parallel to English
Research Questions:
How will people pronounce non-characters when there are no letter-to-phoneme rules?
Investigation hopes shed light on the architecture of lexical and sub-lexical representation.
2 types
Simple vs. Compound
Simple characters: Many simple characters also function as sub-characters known as radicals, and the combination of two or more form the second type of characters known as compound characters.

Horizontal and Vertical Characters exist
– the more frequent a word the quicker the recognition
Suggests people are sensitive to the statistical prevalence of lexical information

- characters pronunciation that is the same as that of its phonetic radical.
REGULARITY IS UNRELIABLE - Less than 48% are regular.

– characters with the same pronunciation as other characters containing the same phonetic radical facilitate recognition.
Suggests sensitivity to sub-lexical characteristics
Regularity and consistency effects are related to two different types of pronunciations
Stem pronunciation
: The pronunciation of the phonetic radical as a stand-alone character. Therefore a regular phonetic compound by definition possess the stem production

Type pronunciation
: The pronunciation of characters with the largest cohort of compound characters containing the same phonetic radical and have the same pronunciation
The Lexical Constituency Model (LCM) of word recognition argues that word representations consists of three interlocking constituents: orthography, phonology and semantics
Word recognition is the activation of all three constituents simultaneously, missing units will lead to failed recognition
Word Recognition = [PH, OR, SE]

Implication for Chinese Characters
Both simple and compound characters are represented at the lexical level.
Radicals that are also simple characters can therefore directly activate its lexical representation
Based on the architectural framework of the Interactive-Activation Model by McClelland and Rumelhart (1981)
Suggests that there are three sub-systems essential for word recognition; orthography, phonology and semantics
Orthography is represented at two main hierarchical levels of activation

Implication for Chinese Characters
Sub-lexical level, consisting of three tiers; Features, Strokes and Radical levels
Lexical level, containing character representations
Priming paradigms assume that target-related primes facilitate target-identification due to interactive activation.
This method allows for the examination of specific competing activations at different points during lexical processing.
It does not, however, address how lexical and sub-lexical competitions are resolved
Especially since regular and consistent characters are usually used as the target-stimulus, it masks the competition between levels

Pseudo-character Naming:
The pseudo-character naming methodology used in this experiment aims to investigate pronunciation outcomes when a lexical entry is incomplete.

Based on predictions of the proposed models when reading pseudo-character:
The regularity maybe more salient and produce the Stem pronunciation
Consistency may take precedence leading to a Type pronunciation

This study aims to shed light on the theoretical differences between the these two models that have not yet been tested and how phonetic radicals may be represented and employed in activating lexical phonology. Moreover, character structure will also be explored in hopes to fill the gaps in our knowledge regarding radicals and their positioning.

The LCM predicts that lexical processing of a pseudo-character, will fail due to absent constituent representations. The embedded phonetic radical, however, would activate its own constituent representations, including its phonological constituent, resulting in the Stem pronunciation being produced.
Hierarchical Interactive-Activation Model

The HIAM would predict Type pronunciations
By Mark Tang
Analysis 1:
Stem vs Type Pronunciation
Analysis 2:
Stem vs Type Pronunciation by Structure
Analysis 3:
Token Frequency

Results and Findings
Analysis 1
appears to support the LC model as there was significantly more Stem pronunciations than Type
However this effect was limited to vertical characters.
The LC model was not able to explain this by the HIA was due to position-specific radicals

Conclusions and Future Directions

Overall the HIA model accommodate the present findings over and above the LC model.

The study supported the importance of structure, radical position and functionality in reading Chinese characters and need to be considered in future studied. As past studies have only focused on horizontal characters.

Moreover, future studies need to factor in positional features when studying the consistency effect.

Taft, M. (2006). Processing of characters by native Chinese readers. In P. Li, L. H. Tan, E. Bates & O. J. L. Tzeng (Eds.), Handbook of East Asian Psycholinguistics (Vol. 1, pp. 237-249). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge university press.

Perfetti, C. A., & Tan, L. H. (1999). The constituency model of Chinese word identification. In J. Wang, A. Inhoff & H.-C. Chen (Eds.), Reading Chinese script: A cognitive analysis (pp. 115-135). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Analysis 2:
supported HIA model in that Horizontal characters produced more Type pronunciations and suggested that the consistency effect was stronger. Also it suggested that positional information was important because consistency was recalculated factoring in structure and position-specific radicals

Did the most frequent pronunciation affect outcome?
Analysis 3
did not suggest that frequency effect influenced pronunciation outcomes
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