The Role of Words in Chinese Reading

Li, Xingshan, Zang, Chuanli, Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 and Pollatsek, Alexander (2015) The Role of Words in Chinese Reading. In: The Oxford Handbook of Reading. Oxford University Press (OUP). ISBN 9780199324576

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The Chinese writing system (and the underlying language) is different from European writing systems (and their underlying languages) in many ways. The most obvious difference is the nonalphabetic form of the Chinese written language, although there are also differences in relation to representations of lexicality, grammaticality, and phonological form. This chapter focuses on issues associated with the nonalphabetic nature of the written form of Chinese and the fact that words are not demarcated by spaces. Despite the surface differences in the orthographies between European languages and Chinese, there is considerable evidence to show that the word is a salient unit for Chinese readers. Properties of words (such as word frequency) as well as character properties (such as character frequency) affect measures of reading time and also affect where eye movements are targeted when passages of text are being read for meaning.

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