Extending Models of Visual-Word Recognition to Semicursive Scripts: Evidence From Masked Priming in Uyghur

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One basic feature of the Arabic script is its semicursive style: some letters are connected to the next, but others are not, as in the Uyghur word Symbol /ya xSymboli/ (“good”). None of the current orthographic coding schemes in models of visual-word recognition, which were created for the Roman script, assign a differential role to the coding of within letter “chunks” and between letter “chunks” in words in the Arabic script. To examine how letter identity/position is coded at the earliest stages of word processing in the Arabic script, we conducted 2 masked priming lexical decision experiments in Uyghur, an agglutinative Turkic language. The target word was preceded by an identical prime, by a transposed-letter nonword prime (that either kept the ligation pattern or did not), or by a 2-letter replacement nonword prime. Transposed-letter primes were as effective as identity primes when the letter transposition in the prime kept the same ligation pattern as the target word (e.g., Symbol /inta_jin/-/itna_jin/), but not when the transposed-letter prime didn't keep the ligation pattern (e.g., Symbol /so_w_Symbola_t/-/so_Symbolw_a_t/). Furthermore, replacement-letter primes were more effective when they kept the ligation pattern of the target word than when they did not (e.g., Symbol /so_d_Symbola_t/-/so_w_Symbola_t/ faster than Symbol /so_Symbold_a_t/-/so_w_Symbola_t/). We examined how input coding schemes could be extended to deal with the intricacies of semicursive scripts.

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