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Tianyin Liu, Janet Hsiao; The perception of simplified and traditional Chinese Characters in the eye of simplified and traditional Chinese readers. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):533. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.533.
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Chinese character expertise involves reduced holistic processing and left side bias/right hemisphere lateralization (Hsiao & Cottrell, 2009). Tso, Au, and Hsiao (2011) recently showed that the reduction in holistic processing was due to writing rather than reading experience; in contrast, the left side bias depended on perceptual experience but not writing experience. Here we examined simplified and traditional Chinese readers’ perception of simplified and traditional characters. Since simplified script readers do not know how to write traditional characters, they may process traditional characters more holistically than simplified characters (vice versa for traditional script readers). Both participant groups performed a character part-matching task (the complete composite paradigm) for assessing holistic processing, and a chimeric character judgment task for assessing left side bias (Hsiao & Cottrell, 2009), with three types of characters: those shared in the two scripts (Scripts-Shared), unique in the simplified script (Unique-Simplified), and unique in the traditional script (Unique-Traditional). We found that both groups perceived Scripts-Shared and Unique-Traditional characters more holistically than Unique-Simplified characters, suggesting simplified characters required more analytic processing; this effect may be due to higher visual similarity among simplified characters than traditional characters. However, no difference was found in holistic processing between the two participant groups, suggesting that their analytic character processing in one script was transferred to the processing of the other script. In addition, simplified script readers demonstrated weaker left side bias than traditional script readers in perceiving Scripts-Shared and Unique-Simplified characters, but not in perceiving Unique-Traditional characters. This effect is consistent with the recent finding that higher visual similarity among characters may lead to stronger left hemispheric lateralization/weaker left side bias (Hsiao & Cheung, 2011), and that left side bias depends on perceptual experience. In short, simplifying the traditional script leads to reduced holistic processing and weaker left side bias in the readers.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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