Reading and Writing

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 791–812 | Cite as

Lexical processes in the recognition of Japanese horizontal and vertical compounds

  • Koji Miwa
  • Ton Dijkstra


This lexical decision eye-tracking study investigated whether horizontal and vertical readings elicit comparable behavioral patterns and whether reading directions modulate lexical processes. Response times and eye movements were recorded during a lexical decision task with Japanese bimorphemic compound words presented vertically. The data were then analyzed together with those obtained in a horizontal lexical decision experiment of Miwa, Libben, Dijkstra, and Baayen (2014). Linear mixed-effects analyses of response times and eye movements revealed that, although response times and first fixation durations were notably shorter in horizontal reading than vertical reading, the vertical reading elicited fewer fixations. Furthermore, while compounds were recognized largely in comparable ways regardless of reading direction, several lexical processes were found to be reading-direction-dependent. Particularly, processing of the first morpheme was modulated by reading direction in a late time frame, such that a horizontal reading advantage was observed for words with a high frequency first morpheme. All in all, the two reading directions do not only differ quantitatively in processing speed, but also qualitatively in terms of underlying processing mechanisms.


Visual word recognition Reading direction Morphological processing Japanese Lexical decision Eye-tracking 



This research was supported by the Izaak Walton Killam scholarship from the Killam Trusts to the first author. Response time and eye movement data after data trimming, accompanying participant and item properties, will be available on the first author’s website ( The frequency data collected from the Balanced Corpus of Contemporary Written Japanese (BCCWJ) are published with permission of the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics. Authors thank Victor Kuperman and anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seminar für SprachwissenschaftEberhard Karls Universität TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and BehaviourRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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