The representation of Chinese bi-morphemic compounds in the lexicon

Mok, Lehwoon, and Chua, F.K. (2000) The representation of Chinese bi-morphemic compounds in the lexicon. In: Abstracts of the 9th International Conference on Chinese Linguistics. From: 9th International Conference on Chinese Linguistics, 26-28 June 2000, Singapore. (Unpublished)

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In modern Chinese, units of meaning are predominantly (more than 80%) bi-morphemic. However, in the Chinese script each character (which maps onto a syllabic morpheme, except for a few exceptions) occupies more or less a uniform space and every character is separated by an approximately equal space. That is, majority of units of meaning in Chinese do not have an additional spatial demarcation in between them. This is quite unlike their equivalents in other writing systems, such as "words" in alphabetic scripts where each word is visually separated from another by an additional space. As such, in conceptualising how lexical information is stored in the mental lexicon, it is intuitive for scholars of alphabetic scripts to start with the idea that units of lexical entry could be the perceptual units --- words. For Chinese, the situation is not as straight-forward. Are units of lexical entry the visually salient characters (i.e., mono-morphemic) or do multi-morphemic (or rather multi-character) units of meaning also have a lexical representation?

The present study investigated this issue by looking at bi-morphemic Chinese compounds. Based on the interactive-activation model, it was proposed that the multi-morphemic level of representation depended on the constituent characters' degree of semantic transparency. Specifically, it was hypothesised that compounds with at least one constituent character which is semantically opaque are more likely to have an entry at the multi-morphemic level. Stimuli were presented tachistoscopically and subjects were students majoring in either Chinese Studies or Chinese Language, or both at the National University of Singapore. Results and implications were discussed within the interactive-activation framework.

Item ID: 24938
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Date Deposited: 14 May 2013 05:22
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170112 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance @ 30%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1702 Cognitive Science > 170204 Linguistic Processes (incl Speech Production and Comprehension) @ 70%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 100%
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