Orthographic or Phonologica?: Exploration of Predominant Information for Native Japanese Readers in the Lexical Access of Kanji Words
R. Mizuno & T. Matsui
Native Japanese readers are known to rely heavily on visual codes and far less on phonological codes in letter processing (Mizuno, Matsui, & Bellezza, 2007). This study aimed to determine whether the lexical access of words written in kanji characters would parallel Japanese letter processing. Two experiments measured native Japanese readers' performance on lexical decision tasks under three nonword conditions: orthographically misleading transposed-letter nonwords, phonologically misleading pseudohomophones, and standard nonwords. The results showed that readers' performance was impaired by transposed-letter nonwords but not by pseudohmnophones, suggesting that native Japanese speakers relied heavily on visual information and to a lesser degree on phonological information in the lexical access of kanji words. These characteristics of lexical access in native Japanese readers may be adaptations to the fact that Japanese kanji words have many homophones.

Key words: native Japanese readers, lexical access, orthographic information, phonological information, kanji words