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Alternating-Script Priming in Japanese: Are Katakana and Hiragana Characters Interchangeable?

Research paper by Manuel M Perea, Mariko M Nakayama, Stephen J SJ Lupker

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition



Abstract

Models of written word recognition in languages using the Roman alphabet assume that a word's visual form is quickly mapped onto abstract units. This proposal is consistent with the finding that masked priming effects are of similar magnitude from lowercase, uppercase, and alternating-case primes (e.g., beard-BEARD, BEARD-BEARD, and BeArD-BEARD). We examined whether this claim can be readily generalized to the 2 syllabaries of Japanese Kana (Hiragana and Katakana). The specific rationale was that if the visual form of Kana words is lost early in the lexical access process, alternating-script repetition primes should be as effective as same-script repetition primes at activating a target word. Results showed that alternating-script repetition primes were less effective at activating lexical representations of Katakana words than same-script repetition primes-indeed, they were no more effective than partial primes that contained only the Katakana characters from the alternating-script primes. Thus, the idiosyncrasies of each writing system do appear to shape the pathways to lexical access. (PsycINFO Database Record