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How Character Reading Can Be Different from Word Reading in Chinese and Why It Matters for Chinese Reading Development

  • Tong LiEmail author
  • Catherine McBride-Chang
Chapter
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 8)

Abstract

Both characters and words in Chinese are related to meaning, and it is interesting to consider the ways in which children process the two. Both phonetic and semantic radicals are essential for character identification. At the same time, within multi-character words, the association(s) of each character to the other(s) are additionally important for children to master. Lexical compounding is a particularly salient aspect of this process. In this chapter, we will elaborate on how characters and words might be considered to be somewhat different Chinese acquisition processes for young children and the developmental association between the two. We will begin by distinguishing these two concepts and explaining why the concepts of “character” and “word” warrant unique focuses in Chinese. We will also highlight what is meant by “reading,” i.e., the inclusion of both oral recognition (i.e., just saying the character or word aloud) and understanding of meaning of the character or word and metalinguistic skills which are important for children’s character and word learning. Next, we will highlight research on the acquisition of each, with particular attention to orthographic structure in characters and the role of morphological awareness in words. We will conclude by addressing the relations among context, words, characters, and radicals in learning and development.

Keywords

Radicals Morphology Compounds Basic units of processing Eye movement Code-related skills Phonological awareness Orthographic skills Morphological awareness 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (project reference# 451210) for support of this research. Please address correspondences regarding this manuscript to Catherine McBride-Chang, Psychology Department, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong; Tel 852–26096576; Email: cmcbride@psy.cuhk.edu.hk.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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