Advertisement

Reading and Writing

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 1275–1293 | Cite as

The role of morphological awareness in L2 Chinese lexical inference: from a perspective of word semantic transparency

  • Tianxu ChenEmail author
Article
  • 95 Downloads

Abstract

Lexical inference refers to the ability to make informed guesses about the meaning of an unknown word. This inferencing ability is affected by learner-related (i.e., morphological awareness and vocabulary knowledge) and language-related (i.e., word semantic transparency) factors. Previous studies have shown that these factors play independent roles in lexical inference for second language (L2) learners. However, little is known regarding how language-related factors shape the contributions of learner-related factors to lexical inference. To fill this gap, the present study addressed two research questions. (1) Does morphological awareness, mediated by vocabulary knowledge, contribute to lexical inference when the inferred words have different levels of semantic transparency? (2) If so, how are these contributions of morphological awareness and vocabulary knowledge affected by word semantic transparency? Ninety-one intermediate-level L2 Chinese learners participated in this study; they completed two morphological awareness tasks, one vocabulary knowledge task, and one lexical inference task in Chinese. The findings, based on correlational analyses, hierarchical multiple regressions, and mediation analyses, showed the following: (1) vocabulary knowledge and morphological awareness did not affect lexical inference for opaque words. (2) Vocabulary knowledge was a significant and direct predictor of lexical inference for transparent and semi-transparent words. And (3) morphological awareness, when mediated by vocabulary knowledge, indirectly contributed to lexical inference for transparent words, but it directly and indirectly made significant contributions to lexical inference for semi-transparent words.

Keywords

L2 Chinese Morphological awareness Lexical inference Semantic transparency 

References

  1. Anderson, R. C., & Freebody, P. (1983). Reading comprehension and the assessment and acquisition of word knowledge. In B. Huston (Ed.), Advances in reading research (pp. 231–256). Greenwich, CT: JAI.Google Scholar
  2. Cai, Q., & Brysbaert, M. (2010). SUBTLEX-CH: Chinese word and character frequencies based on film subtitles. PLoS ONE, 5(6), e10729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carlisle, J. F. (2000). Awareness of the structure and meaning of morphologically complex words: Impact on reading. Reading and Writing, 12(3), 169–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ceccagno, A., & Basciano, B. (2007). Compound headedness in Chinese: An analysis of neologisms. Morphology, 17(2), 207–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, T. (2018). Joint contributions of multilevel linguistic knowledge to character meaning retention in L2 Chinese. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-018-9594-3.
  6. Committee of Contemporary Chinese Dictionary. (2002). Contemporary Chinese Dictionary. Beijing: The Commercial Press (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  7. Dronjic, V. (2011). Mandarin Chinese compounds, their representation, and processing in the visual modality. Writing Systems Research, 3, 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Finegan, E. (2007). Language: Its structure and use. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  9. Gan, H. (2008). The effects of semantic transparency on vocabulary learning in intermediate Chinese reading. Applied Linguistics (语言文字应用), 1, 82–90. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  10. Haastrup, K. (1991). Lexical inferencing procedures or talking about words: Receptive procedures in foreign language learning with special reference to English. Tubingen: Gunter Narr.Google Scholar
  11. Hamada, M. (2014). The role of morphological and contextual information in L2 lexical inference. The Modern Language Journal, 98(4), 992–1005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hamada, M., & Koda, K. (2008). Influence of first language orthographic experience on second language decoding and word learning. Language Learning, 58, 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hanban (Confucius Institute Headquarters). (2010). Chinese Proficiency Test Syllabus. Beijing: The Commercial Press. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  14. Huang, S. (1997). Chinese as a headless language in compounding morphology. In J. L. Packard (Ed.), New approaches to Chinese word formation: Morphology, phonology and the lexicon in modern and ancient Chinese (pp. 261–283). NY: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  15. Jiang, X., Fang, Y., & Yang, S. (2016). Comprehension of noun-noun compounds by Chinese native speakers and L2 learners. Chinese Teaching in the World (世界汉语教学), 30(2), 226–238. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  16. Ke, S., & Koda, K. (2017). Contributions of morphological awareness to adult L2 Chinese word meaning inferencing. The Modern Language Journal, 101(4), 742–755.Google Scholar
  17. Koda, K. (2000). Cross-linguistic variations in L2 morphological awareness. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21, 297–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Koda, K. (2005). Insights into second language reading: A cross-linguistic approach. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Koda, K. (2007). Reading and language learning: Cross-linguistic constraints on second-language reading development. Language Learning, 57(s1), 1–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Koda, K., Lü, C., & Zhang, D. (2014). L1-induced facilitation in biliteracy development in Chinese and English. In X. Chen, Q. Wang, & Y. C. Luo (Eds.), Reading development and difficulties in monolingual and bilingual Chinese children (pp. 141–169). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ku, Y. M., & Anderson, R. C. (2003). Development of morphological awareness in Chinese and English. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 16(5), 399–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Committee of Lexicon of Common Words in Contemporary Chinese. (2008). Lexicon of common words in contemporary Chinese. Beijing: The Commercial Press (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  23. Libben, G., Gibson, M., Yoon, Y. B., & Sandra, D. (2003). Compound fracture: The role of semantic transparency and morphological headedness. Brain and Language, 84, 50–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Luo, M., Zhang, J., Xie, O., Huang, H., Xie, N., & Li, Y. (2011). Report on the quality of new Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK). China Examinations (中国考试), 10, 3–7. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  25. Mok, L. W. (2009). Word-superiority effect as a function of semantic transparency of Chinese bimorphemic compound words. Language and Cognitive Process, 24(7/8), 1039–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mori, Y. (2003). The roles of context and word morphology in learning new Kanji words. The Modern Language Journal, 87(3), 404–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mori, Y., & Nagy, W. (1999). Integration of information from context and word elements in interpreting novel kanji compounds. Reading Research Quarterly, 34, 80–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nassaji, H. (2004). The relationship between depth of vocabulary knowledge and L2 learners’ lexical inferencing strategy use and success. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 61(1), 107–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Packard, J. L. (2000). The morphology of Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Paribakht, T. S., & Wesche, M. (1999). Reading and “incidental” L2 vocabulary acquisition: An introspective study of lexical inferencing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21(2), 195–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Prior, A., Goldina, A., Shany, M., Geva, E., & Katzir, T. (2014). Lexical inference in L2: Predictive roles of vocabulary knowledge and reading skill beyond reading comprehension. Reading and Writing, 27, 1467–1484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shu, H., Chen, X., Anderson, R. C., Wu, N., & Xuan, Y. (2003). Properties of school Chinese: Implications for learning to read. Child Development, 74(1), 27–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Su, Y., & Samuels, S. J. (2010). Developmental changes in character-complexity and word-length effects when reading Chinese script. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 23(9), 1085–1108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wang, M., Lin, C. Y., & Gao, W. (2010). Bilingual compound processing: The effects of constituent frequency and semantic transparency. Writing Systems Research, 2(2), 117–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wang, Y., & McBride, C. (2016). Character reading and word reading in Chinese: Unique correlates for Chinese kindergarteners. Applied Psycholinguistics, 37, 371–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang, C., & Peng, D. (1999). The roles of surface frequencies, cumulative morpheme frequencies, and semantic transparencies in the processing of compound words. Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报), 31(3), 266–273. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  37. Wang, C., & Peng, D. (2000). The role of semantic transparencies in the processing of compound words. Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报), 32(2), 127–132. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  38. Wesche, M. B., & Paribakht, T. S. (2010). Lexical inferencing in a first and second language: Cross-linguistic dimensions. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  39. Xu, M. (2003). A Study on the combination types of morphemes and the ability of morpheme to combine new words of two-syllable words in Chinese glossary for foreigners of different level. Unpublished Master Thesis. Beijing Language and Culture University. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  40. Xing, H. (2006). A statistic analysis on morphemes from the disyllabic words in graded vocabulary. Chinese Teaching in the World (世界汉语教学), 3, 63–71 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  41. Yuan, C., & Huang, C. (1998). An investigation to morpheme and word formation in Chinese: A corpus analysis. Chinese Teaching in the World (世界汉语教学), 2, 7–12. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  42. Zhang, D. (2013). Linguistic distance effect on cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness. Applied Psycholinguistics, 34(5), 917–942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zhang, H. (2015). Morphological awareness in vocabulary acquisition among Chinese-Speaking children: Testing partial mediation via lexical inference ability. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(1), 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhang, H. (2016). Does morphology play an important role in L2 Chinese vocabulary acquisition? Foreign Language Annals, 49(2), 384–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zhang, D., & Koda, K. (2012). Contribution of morphological awareness and lexical inferencing ability to L2 vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension among advanced EFL learners: Testing direct and indirect effects. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 25, 1195–1216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zhang, H., & Koda, K. (2018). Vocabulary knowledge and morphological awareness in Chinese as a heritage language (CHL) reading comprehension ability. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 31, 53–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zhang, J., & Zeng, Y. (2010). Three factors of the understanding of Chinese coinage for intermediate international students. Applied Linguistics (语言文字应用), 2, 118–126. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  48. Zhang, J., & Zhang, J. (2010). Report on the vocabulary list of new Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK). China Examinations (中国考试), 1, 34–38. (in Chinese).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Modern LanguagesCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations