Reading Kanji

    Professor Matsunaga carried out a study exploring the extent to which native speakers of Japanese associate kanji (Chinese characters) with sounds in addition to meanings. Experiments were devised to test differences in reading comprehension after subjects were given passages with and without kanji errors. Their reading processing behavior was monitored with the aid of a device that tracked eye movement. It was found that subjects noticed meaning-based errors far less successfully when a kanji‘s sound representation was homophonic, or identical, to the kanji whose meaning would have been appropriate for the particular context. This psycholinguistic study provides valuable directions for those engaged in the teaching and acquisition of reading skills in Japanese as a second language. The final report is available in Center Technical Report #6, The Role of Phonological Coding in Reading Kanji: A Research Report and Some Pedagogical Implications.