Effects of semantic radical properties on character meaning extraction and inference among learners of Chinese as a foreign language

Chan Lü, Keiko Koda, Dongbo Zhang, Yanhui Zhang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examined how the properties of semantic radicals affect character meaning inference among adult learners of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL). A semantic radical is a component of a compound character whose primary function is to provide an aspect of the meaning of its host character. Because radicals differ in the nature of the information they supply and their relationships with the characters' meaning, their functions are not uniformly salient to users. This study focused on the notion of radical functional salience and its impacts on character learning and processing. In Study 1, we identified radical properties pertinent to functional salience via a sequence of property analyses, and determined how the identified properties were related to perceived familiarity with commonly used radicals among native Chinese speakers. Based on the analyses, in Study 2, we examined how functional salience affects the way CFL learners use radical information through character meaning extraction and inference tasks. The results demonstrated that functional salience was differentially related to performance variances. The findings suggest that CFL learners' use of radical information during character processing is explained jointly by the properties of semantic radicals and learners' radical knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-185
Number of pages17
JournalWriting Systems Research
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Chinese as a second language
  • Chinese character processing
  • Lexical inference
  • Morphological properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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