ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (7): 885-900.

### The Role of Phonetic Radicals and Semantic Radicals in Phonetics and Semantics Extraction of Phonogram Characters: An Eye Movement Study on Components Perception

ZHANG Jijia;WANG Juan;YIN Cong

1. (1 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China) (2 School of Education Science, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou 221116, China) (3 Department of Psychology, Beijing University, Beijing 100871, China)
• Received:2012-07-03 Published:2014-07-25 Online:2014-07-25
• Contact: ZHANG Jijia

Abstract:

A phonogram character consists of a semantic radical, usually reflecting the meaning of the character; and a phonetic radical, typically supplying partial information about the pronunciation of the character. A majority of these phonogram characters have a left-right structure, with the two radicals standing side by side; about 90% of them have the semantic radical on the left and the phonetic radical on the right (SP character), and the other 10% have the semantic radical on the right and the phonetic radical on the left (PS character). The ratio between SP characters and PS characters is about 5.5 to 1. When people are reading, how to make use of visual input to extract words’ phonetic and semantic information from mental lexicon? The question has been highlighted in the study of psycholinguistics. The study was conducted to investigate eye movements of Mandarin Chinese native speakers while they made readable judgement and word categorizing tasks in SP characters and PS characters. Two experiments were adopted to investigate SP characters and PS characters’ processing characteristics. Readable judgement task was performed in Experiment 1. 32 college students (14 males and 18 females respectively) were tested. Single-factor which comprises SP and PS characters was used. The target stimuli included 60 phonogram characters (30 SP characters and 30 PS characters). Frequency and strokes numbers were balanced between these two characters. Word categorizing task was performed in Experiment 2. Thirty college students (14 males and 16 females respectively) were tested. The experiment design was the same with Experiment 1. The target stimuli included 48 phonogram characters (24 SP characters and 24 PS characters). Four compound semantic categories were used: (1) person (semantic radical of “亻” was included) or place name (semantic radical of “阝”was included); (2) female (semantic radical of “女”wad included )or bird (semantic radical of “鸟”was included); (3) Actions tools by fire or knife (semantic radical of “火” or “刂”was included); (4) Body actions by eyes or mouth (semantic radical of “目” or “口”was included). Behavioral data and eye movement indexes (proportion of dwell-time, proportion of fixations, and first-fixation-index) were analyzed. In two experiments, SP characters were judged more quickly faster than PS characters. There was no significant difference in error rate. Comparison of the eye movement indexes between SP characters and PS characters were shown that, significance difference existed among different interest areas, but the trend was different. For SP characters, right components acquired more proportion of dwell-time and more proportion of fixations, and subjects gave priority to right component. For PS characters, left component acquired more more proportion of dwell-time and more proportion of fixations, and subjects gave priority to left components. For the index of first-fixation-time, SP characters were fell earlier than PS characters. For the index of first-fix-interest-area-x-offset, in Experiment 1, both two characters were focused on the right side of center of the priority areas; in Experiment 2, both two characters were focused on the left side of center of the priority areas. The results showed that: (1) In phonogram characters’ processing, readers’ attention priority to components’ spatial position were mediated by phonetic components’ position. For SP characters, right side of characters were paid more attention by readers, for PS characters, left side of characters were paid more attention by readers; (2) Position-function connection which left component reflects semantics and right component supplies pronunciation existed in readers’ orthographic rules. (3) Phonetic radicals were paid more attention than semantic radicals in both phonetic and semantic processing of the phonogram characters, and the advantages are more significant in phonetic processing: phonetic radicals act more independently in readable judgment task, while phonetic radicals need to combine the information provided by semantic radicals in categorizing task.