Categorical perception of Chinese characters by simplified and traditional Chinese readers
Recent research has shown that the visual complexity of orthographies across writing systems influences the development of orthographic representations. Simplified and traditional Chinese characters are usually regarded as the most visually complicated writing systems currently in use, with the traditional system showing a higher level of complexity. However, it is still unclear whether and how learning two Chinese writing systems influences the processing of characters among simplified and traditional Chinese script readers. This study employed the categorical perception (CP) paradigm to examine adult Mainland China Chinese (MLC) simplified character readers and adult Hong Kong Chinese (HKC) traditional character readers’ liminal perception of the following types of morphing continua of “line characters” (with font features removed): the Absolute-Differentiation (AD) type, which contains a topological change, and the Relative-Differentiation type, which does not contain any topological change in visual configurations. The results showed evidence of CP effects on the two types of stimuli among MLC and HKC readers. Moreover, MLC and HKC readers presented major differences in perceiving AD-type stimuli, indicating that different experiences with two Chinese writing systems influence character perception. These findings extend previous results regarding the comparison of visual skills of simplified and traditional Chinese script readers and support the hypothesis that simplified Chinese script readers have higher visual discrimination rates than do traditional Chinese script readers in character perception.
KeywordsCategorical perception Simplified Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters Pattern perception
This study was partially supported by the General Research Fund of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Research Grants Council, awarded to Prof. William Shi Yuan Wang (Project No. 14611615). The authors thank all the participants. The authors also acknowledge the editor and reviewers for their constructive help in improving the paper. The first author also thanks Dr. James W. Minett for his insightful comments in the early stage of this study.
Funding was provided by General Research Fund of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Research Grants Council (Grant No. 14611615).
- Abramson, A. S. (1979). The noncategorical perception of tone categories in Thai. In B. Lindblom & S. Öhman (Eds.), Frontiers of Speech Communication Research (pp. 127–134). London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Ai, W. (1955). Some Issues in Chinese Characters [漢字問題]. Taipei [台北]: National Publishing House [國立編譯館] (Written in Chinese).Google Scholar
- Chen, X., & Kao, H. S. R. (2002). Visual-spatial properties and orthographic processing of Chinese characters. In H. S. R. Kao (Ed.), Cognitive Neuroscience Studies of the Chinese Language (pp. 175–194). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
- Cheung, H., & Ng, L. K. H. (2003). Chinese reading development in some major Chinese societies: An introduction. In C. McBride-Chang & H. C. Chen (Eds.), Reading Development in Chinese Children (pp. 3–18). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Gao, D.-G., & Kao, H. S. R. (2002). Psycho-geometric analysis of commonly used Chinese characters. In H. S. R. Kao (Ed.), Cognitive Neuroscience Studies of the Chinese Language (pp. 195–206). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
- Harnad, S. R. (1987). Introduction: Psychological and cognitive aspects of categorical perception: A critical overview. In S. R. Harnad (Ed.), Categorical Perception: The Groundwork of Cognition (pp. 1–25). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Ho, H.-H., & Kwan, T.-W. (2001). Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan: Chinese Character Frequency-A Tans-Regional, Diachronic Survey. http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/chifreq/. Accessed 4 Nov 2017.
- Hoosain, R. (1991). Psycholinguistic Implications for Linguistic Relativity: A Case Study of Chinese. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Jones, J. (2009). Sqirlz Morph (Version 2.1). Retrieved from http://www.xiberpix.net/SqirlzMorph.html. Accessed 6 Dec 2012.
- Kao, H. S. R. (2000). The visual-spatial properties of Chinese characters and psycho-geometric theory of Chinese character writing [漢字視覺空間特徵與漢字書寫的心理幾何理論]. In H. S. R. Kao (Ed.), Chinese Calligraphy Therapy [書法心理治療] (pp. 3–41). Hong Kong [香港]: Hong Kong University Press [香港大學出版社] (Written in Chinese).Google Scholar
- Liu, L. (1993). Analysis of the topological structures of Chinese characters [漢字拓撲結構分析]. In Y. Chen (Ed.), Information Analysis of the Usage of Characters in Modern Chinese [現代漢語用字信息分析] (pp. 15–32). Shanghai [中國上海]: Shanghai Education Publisher [上海教育出版社] (Written in Chinese).Google Scholar
- McBride, C. (2004). Children’s Literacy Development. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- McBride, C. (2016). Children’s Literacy Development: A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Learning to Read and Write (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Pastore, R. E. (1987). Categorical perception: Some psychophysical models. In S. R. Harnad (Ed.), Categorical Perception: The Groundwork of Cognition (pp. 29–52). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Wang, H. (Ed.) (1995). A Practical Dictionary on Simplified Sinograms with Similar Configurations [實用形近字字典]. Beijing [中國北京]: Academy Press [學苑出版社] (Written in Chinese).Google Scholar
- Wang, W. S.-Y. (1976). Language change. In S. R. Harnad, H. D. Steklis, & J. Lancaster (Eds.), Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences) (Vol. 280, pp. 61–72). New York: New York Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
- Wang, W. S.-Y., & Tsai, Y. (2011). The alphabet and the sinogram. In P. McCardle, B. Miller, J. R. Lee, & O. J. L. Tzeng (Eds.), Dyslexia Across Languages, Orthography and the Brain-Gene-Behavior Link (pp. 1–31). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.Google Scholar