[PS-2.58] Reading in Japanese: "Meaning-to-Phonology" and "Phonology-to-Meaning" Routes for Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana

Dylman, A. 1 & Kikutani, M. 2

1 Mid Sweden University, Sweden
2 Doshisha University, Japan

Traditionally, the logographic script kanji has been thought to be processed in a "meaning-to-phonology" fashion whereas the phonological scripts katakana and hiragana have been thought to be phonologically mediated, with more consistent "phonology-to-meaning" links. This view, however, has been seriously challenged by recent empirical findings. Further, the traditional account is questionable for homographic words with identical hiragana spellings and near-identical pronunciation but for which there is a slight difference in intonation. Accurate pronunciation for these words would be impossible without processing the meaning. The present research investigated this issue using a script-switching paradigm as used by Shafiullah and Monsell (1999) who observed script-switch processing costs in reading Japanese. We added a semantic relatedness factor to more closely investigate the mechanisms of this switch-cost effect related to the different processing routes. In 4 experiments, 112 participants switched between processing either the logographic script kanji and the phonological hiragana, or the two phonological scripts katakana and hiragana. While there was no robust switch-cost for hiragana, we did find reliable switch-cost for katakana. Surprisingly, we found a reverse switch-cost (a switch-facilitation) for kanji words. These results and their implications for our understanding of the reading routes for the Japanese orthographies will be discussed.