The time course of semantic and phonological access in naming kanji and kana words

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Abstract

Two experiments were conducted to investigate the time course of semantic and phonological access in naming kanji and kana words. Japanese adults quickly named single words written in kanji and the same words written in kana in one session, and translated them into English in another session. In both experiments using nouns (Experiment 1) and verbs (Experiment 2), words were named faster in kana than in kanji but were translated faster in kanji than in kana. These findings were interpreted to suggest that kana words are closer to phonology while kanji words are closer to meaning. The optimum solutions obtained by the simplex method showed that semantic access takes place 10 to 19 msec earlier in kanji words than in kana words, whereas phonological access takes place 27 to 31 msec earlier in kana words than in kanji words. A possible difference between kanji nouns and verbs is briefly discussed in terms of phonological access time.

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