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An examination of semantic radical combinability effects with lateralized cues in Chinese character recognition


Auclair and Sieroff (2002) examined lateralized cuing effects in the identification of centrally presented letter strings and reported no cuing effects for short word stimuli. They argued for a redistribution of attention over the entire word for short familiar words. We explored cuing effects with Chinese phonetic compounds, which can be considered extreme examples of short words, in a character-level semantic judgment task. When the semantic radical position was placed on the left of the characters, strong radical combinability and semantic transparency effects were observed. There was also a significant interaction between cue position (left vs. right) and radical combinability: A left cue facilitated semantic judgment of characters with small radical combinability more than did a right cue. This behavior reflects the information profile of Chinese phonetic compounds. Semantic radicals with small combinability are more informative than those with large combinability in determining the meaning of the whole character; they therefore benefit more from a left than a right cue. A mechanism redistributing attention over the whole of the character was not in evidence at the level of semantic processing.

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