ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (1): 1-13.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00001

• Reports of Empirical Studies •     Next Articles

Effects of orthographic depth on Chinese word naming for Han and Uyghur students

YANG Qun1,WANG Yan2,ZHANG Jijia1,*   

  1. 1 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China
    2 The State Ethnic Affairs Commission Key Research Center for Language, Cultural, and Psychology
  • Received:2018-01-23 Published:2019-01-25 Online:2018-11-26
  • Contact: Jijia ZHANG
  • Supported by:


China is a multi-ethnic country with a variety of languages. Successful communication among nationalities is basic and important. Hence, bilingual education is a special teaching form in which ethnic minorities inherit the national culture and familiarize Mandarin and Chinese characters. As a typical alphabetic language, Uyghur differs from Chinese. Specifically, mastering the Chinese polyphonic characters is difficult for Uyghur students, especially those with more than one pronunciation. Orthographic depth denotes the consistency in grapheme-to-phoneme correspondence. In terms of inner language, polyphonic characters are less consistent than monophonic words. In relation to cross languages, orthographic depth affects the encoding of the lexical process. The present study aims to investigate the effect of orthographic depth on Chinese word naming tasks for Uyghur and Han nationalities.
The word naming task was conducted in experiments 1 and 2 to investigate the effects of orthographic depth. Thirty Han and thirty Uyghur students volunteered in each experiment, and each one participated in one experiment only. In experiment 1, eighty monosyllabic words with half poly and half monophonic characters were included. Among the poly and monophonic words, half reached high frequencies (343.3-3869.8/per million), and half had low frequencies (7.2-237.8/per million). During the experiment, the participants were asked to name words as quickly and accurately as possible. Repeated measure ANOVA was performed. The results corroborate that (a) naming latencies for polyphonic and monophonic words were longer for Uyghur than Han students, (b) monophonic words were named faster than polyphonic words for all the participants, and (c) the word frequency (WF) effect was larger for Uyghur than for Han students. Moreover, the authors recorded prepared responses using polyphonic words, which were pronounced with high frequency and named faster than the nondominant reaction but found no significant differences between the two groups.
In experiment 2, eighty disyllabic words were selected, with the first syllables equally grouped into polyphonic and monophonic characters. Among the disyllable words, half reached high frequencies (222.2-2565.4/per million), and half had low frequencies (2.3-47.6/per million). The procedure was similar to that in experiment 1.The authors performed repeated measures ANOVAs by subject and item and found an interaction between WF and orthographic depth in the two groups. For the Uyghur participants, words with initial polyphonic characters were named slower than monophonic ones in high frequency disyllable words. However, significant differences did not exist between polyphonic and monophonic characters. For the Han students, words with initial polyphonic characters were named slower than monophonic ones in low frequency disyllable words and displayed the same result with high frequency disyllable words.
The study validates that orthographic depth has different modes of influence on the naming of Chinese characters in the two nationalities. This finding is related to the differences in the characteristics of the mother tongue, the age of vocabulary acquisition, the level of language proficiency, and the manner of language processing between the two nationalities.

Key words: orthographic depth, word frequency, context, Uyghur

CLC Number: