On reading Chinese characters : a neuropsychological and experimental study
The research reported here attempts to identify those reading processes common to both alphabetic readers and readers of Chinese logographic characters, and those processes unique to Chinese reading. Three types of evidence are presented: (1) experimental studies of normal Chinese readers; (2) clinical and experimental investigations of Chinese patients with acquired dyslexic symptoms; (3) a survey of developmental dyslexia in China. Like alphabetic readers, Chinese readers show independent procedures for mapping from orthography to meaning and from orthography to sound. Also like alphabetic readers, the mapping to sound can be accomplished by both a lexical and a sublexical procedure. The special characteristics of Chinese script are analysed and their significance in reading processes are revealed. The research is presented in six chapters. Chapter 1 is the background of this study which contains a general review of reading studies of Chinese and other scripts, the main theoretical issues and the objectives of this study. Chapter 2 presents a new analysis of statistical properties of Chinese characters including the consistency of phonetic radicals. Chapter 3 presents experiments on reading Chinese characters by normal Chinese readers. In these studies, phonological recoding is demonstrated; the lateralization of reading Chinese characters is investigated; and finally, the errors of normal subjects' reading is examined. Chapter 4 contains a clinical study on Chinese acquired dyslexic patients. In this study, several Chinese acquired dyslexic symptoms are reported for the first time. Analogues of surface and deep dyslexia in Chinese patients are described for the first time. This supports the idea of independent lexical and sublexical procedures for mapping from orthography to sound. However, Chinese surface and deep dyslexia show features distinct from their alphabetic counterparts. In addition, it is also revealed that there are some special dyslexic symptoms which are predictable from the characteristics of Chinese script which I term associative dyslexia and compound dyslexia. Chapter 5 contains a survey on developmental dyslexia among 8106 Chinese pupils in which the ratio of developmental dyslexia is found to be lower (1.92%) than in alphabetic children. Chapter 6 presents the theoretical implications of the studies taken together for Chinese reading and for reading generally.