THE RECOGNITION OF SPOKEN MONO-MORPHEMIC COMPOUNDS IN CHINESE
Yu-da Lai and James Myers
This paper explores the auditory lexical access of mono-morphemic compounds in Chinese as a way of understanding the role of orthography in the recognition of spoken words. In traditional Chinese linguistics, a compound is a word written with two or more characters whether or not they are morphemic. A mono-morphemic compound may either be a binding word, written with characters that only appear in this one word, or a non-binding word, written with characters that are chosen for their pronunciation but that also appear in other words. Our goal was to determine if this purely orthographic difference affects auditory lexical access by conducting a series of four experiments with materials matched by whole-word frequency, syllable frequency, cross-syllable predictability, cohort size, and acoustic duration, but differing in binding. An auditory lexical decision task (LDT) found an orthographic effect: binding words were recognized more quickly than non-binding words. However, this effect disappeared in an auditory repetition and in a visual LDT with the same materials, implying that the orthographic effect during auditory lexical access was localized to the decision component and involved the influence of cross-character predictability without the activation of orthographic representations. This claim was further confirmed by overall faster recognition of spoken binding words in a cross-modal LDT with different types of visual interference. The theoretical and practical consequences of these findings are discussed.
Key words: spoken word recognition, mono-morphemic compound, orthography