Semantic vs. Phonetic Decoding Strategies in Non-Native Readers of Chinese
AuthorWilliams, Clay Hunter
AdvisorBever, Thomas G.
Committee ChairBever, Thomas G.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the effects of semantic and phonetic radicals on Chinese character decoding by high-intermediate level Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) learners. The results of the main study (discussed in Chapter #5) suggest that the CFL learners tested have a well-developed semantic pathway to recognition; however, their phonological pathway is not yet a reliable means of character identification. Semantic radicals that correctly pertain to character meaning facilitated reaction time in semantic categorization tasks (Experiment #1), while radicals that had no immediately interpretable relation to character meaning had a strong inhibitory effect. The relativeaccuracy of phonetic radicals (for predicting the whole-character's pronunciation) did not measurably improve homonym recognition (Experiment #2). Subjects were then tested to determine their default processing modes in Chinese character reading. In a lexical decision task (Experiment #3) wherein semantic radicals or phonological components were blurred to delay recognition, surprisingly, the subjects were significantly slower in identifying pseudo-characters when the phonological component was blurred, indicating that, despite having unreliable phonological pathways to character recognition, the subjects were still utilizing that strategy first. These results were mirrored in a sentence reading task (Experiment #4) wherein a single character had either a blurred semantic radical or phonological component. This tendency to use the less developed pathway is explained as a default means of attempting character recognition as a result of subjects gleaning orthographic information from the densely packed phonological component and as a result of L1 (English) interference predisposing subjects to phonological decoding strategies.Such a study on CFL learner reading processes is an important step towards ameliorating CFL teaching methodologies. For this reason, the author contrasts the data on CFL learners with data taken from similar experiments with native Chinese speakers (in Chapter #6) in order to demonstrate concrete differences in character reading processes which should affect teaching practices between the two groups. The authorconcludes the dissertation by making targeted recommendations for CFL pedagogical practices based upon the results of the study on the effect of character-internal features on reading patterns by non-native readers of Chinese (Chapter #8).
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching