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   2012, Vol. 44 Issue (7) : 882-895     DOI:
Role of Familiarity of Semantic Radicals in the Recognition of Lowly Familiar Chinese Characters
(1 Department of Psychology, Politics and Public Managerial College, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou 510420, China)
(2 Center for Psychological Publication, South China N ormal University, Guangzhou 510631, China)
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Abstract  Chinese characters are logograms, with semantic radicals playing the dominating role in conveying meaning through form. Though fruitful results have been achieved in semantic radical’s studies, providing evidence to support that semantic radical embodies the pictographic, ideographic and grammar function. The tasks applied in those studies are mostly outline, much less inline. The latter method mainly regards frequency as a balance-matching factor, while the matching method is likely to hide the difference in processing characters with different frequencies; this is probably one important reason why no concordant conclusion has been made in current semantic radical’s studies.
This study, referring to the Chen Xinkui and Zhang Jijias’ research on the influence of the familiarity of semantic radicals on the recognition of high frequency Chinese characters, and applying the same research paradigm, i.e., by matching components of high frequency words and low frequency words like word frequency, number of strokes, details, contextual requisitions, probed into the impact of low frequency phonograms as initiate words on target words under three different SOA conditions, thus analyze systematically and thoroughly the impact of familiarity of semantic radicals on the understanding of phonograms.
The results showed that when SOA = 43ms, the target latencies following R+S-primes were slower than the R - S - controls under the highly familiar semantic radical condition; however, this was not the case under the less familiar condition. When SOA = 72ms, the target latencies following R+S- primes were slowed relative to R - S - controls under both highly familiar and less familiar semantic radical conditions. Further, when SOA= 243ms, facilitation effects of R-S+ and inhibition effects of R+S- Primes were observed under both highly and lowly familiar semantic radicals conditions, with a inhibition effects found in the highly familiar one.
The results indicated a dynamic interaction between the processing of semantic radicals and the processing of whole characters. As an important influencing factor of lexical processing, word frequency influence not only the speed of lexical access, but also the processing of sublexical component such as radicals. Those two were at the different processing level. The results provided new evidences for the model of semantic radical representaion, and surported to theory of Chinese character’s cognition further.
Keywords semantic radical      semantic access      orthographic access     
Corresponding Authors: ZHANG Ji-Jia   
Issue Date: 28 July 2012
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CHEN Xin-Kui,ZHANG Ji-Jia. Role of Familiarity of Semantic Radicals in the Recognition of Lowly Familiar Chinese Characters[J]. ,2012, 44(7): 882-895.
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