Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 94)

Yokohama, Japan
September 18-22, 1994

The Inconsistency of Consistency Effects in Reading: The Case of Japanese Kanji Phonology

Taeko Nakayama Wydell, Brian Butterworth

Department of Psychology, University College London, London, UK

Most Japanese Kanji characters have several different pronunciations, at least one ON-reading (of Chinese origin) and a KUN-reading (of Japanese origin); the appropriate pronunciation is determined by intraword context. There are also Kanji characters which have a single ON-reading and no KUN-reading. With 2-character ON-reading Kanji words as stimuli, naming experiments were carried out to investigate print-to-sound consistency effects, as seen in studies of English. The consistent Kanji words were those where neither constituent character has an alternative ON-reading or a KUN-reading, hence there can be no pronunciation ambiguity for these words. The inconsistent items were ON-reading words composed of characters which have KUN-readings that are appropriate to other words in which the characters occur, hence there should be some ambiguity about the pronunciation of the constituent characters. Experiments reported here yielded reliable effects of both word and character frequency/familiarity on speed and accuracy of word naming, but virtually no evidence for consistency effects. It is concluded that for Kanji, phonology is computed dominantly at the word rather than the character level.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wydell, Taeko Nakayama / Butterworth, Brian (1994): "The inconsistency of consistency effects in reading: the case of Japanese kanji phonology", In ICSLP-1994, 1127-1130.