Positional specificity of radicals in Chinese character recognition

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Abstract
The first two experiments reported here took two-radical Chinese characters and transposed their radicals to create another character. Character decision and naming responses to these transposed stimuli were then compared to control items that were not created via transposition, and no difference was found. Nor was a transposition effect found in a third experiment examining noncharacters. These results were taken to mean that positional information is crucial in activating radical information during character recognition. A further experiment did reveal a radical-transposition effect, but only when a four-radical character had two of its radicals transposed (and hence had two of its radicals intact). In contrast to the first three experiments with two-radical characters, the transposition of characters within two-character words revealed considerable interference, which confirmed the expectation that positional information is not so important in character-level representations. The results overall support a hierarchical framework for considering the recognition of Chinese words whereby there is both a radical and a character level of representation, with the former being directly activated by featural information, including positional features.
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Author(s)
Taft, Marcus
Zhu, Xiaoping
Peng, Danling
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Publication Year
1999
Resource Type
Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty