ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (9): 1242-1260.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.01242

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The Effect of Phonetic Radicals on Identification of Chinese Phonograms: Evidence from Eye Movement

CHI Hui1;YAN Guoli1;XU Xiaolu2;XIA Ying2;CUI Lei3;BAI Xuejun1   

  1. (1 Academy of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300074, China) (2 School of Education Science, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China) (3 School of Psychology, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, China)
  • Received:2013-09-25 Published:2014-09-25 Online:2014-09-25
  • Contact: YAN Guoli, E-mail:


Unlike alphabetic languages, the semantic information of Chinese characters is linked more closely with the orthographic information than the phonological information. As such, in the study of Chinese reading, the effect of orthographic information and phonological information on semantic access is always a controversial issue. Many studies have found that the orthographic information of Chinese characters give direct access to meaning. However, Chinese phonograms which account for most of the proportion (80%) of Chinese characters have phonetic radicals. The phonetic radicals mostly have the same pronunciation as the phonograms. To some extent, the phonetic radicals can provide the phonological information. So, the phonological information of phonetic radicals may play a part in the processing of phonograms. Two studies were conducted to investigate whether the phonological information of the phonetic radicals plays an important role in the processing of phonograms. There were two experiments in each study. Experiment 1 and 2 explored left-right structure and top-bottom structure phonograms respectively. An Eyelink 2000 eye tracker was used to explore the effect of the phonetic radicals in normal reading conditions. In study 1, a 2(position of phonetic radicals) ×3 (pattern of stroke removal) within-participants design was adopted in both Experiment 1 and 2. In Experiment 1, the phonetic radical was on the left side or right side of the character. In Experiment 2, the phonetic radical was either on the top or bottom side of the character. The pattern of stroke removal (one-third of the strokes) included beginning stroke removal, ending stroke removal and no stroke removal in both experiments. Chinese phonograms were embedded in sentences as the target characters. Only the target characters had strokes removed. The experimental designs in Study 2 were the same as Study 1. The difference was that one-third of the strokes were removed from all the characters in a sentence in Study 2. The results of both studies showed that when the phonetic radical was on the right side or bottom side of the character, the processing time was no difference between the beginning strokes removal condition and the ending strokes removal condition, or the processing time of the characters with ending strokes removed was longer than that of the characters with beginning strokes removed, that is a reversion of the stroke order effect. This indicates that if the ending strokes removed are the phonetic radical, the stroke order effect disappears. The effect of the phonetic radical counteracts the stroke order effect (characters with beginning strokes removed are more disruptive than that with ending strokes removed). The results demonstrate that: (1) The present study supports the stroke order effect. However, for Chinese phonograms, the phonological information of the sub-lexical phonetic radicals can influence the stroke order effect. (2) The phonetic radicals play an important role in identification of Chinese phonograms both in naming tasks and normal reading. (3) The present study supports the dual route model. According to the dual route model, there exists a phonetic activation on processing of Chinese phonograms.

Key words: identification of Chinese phonograms, phonetic radical, phonological information, eye movement