Semantic Representations and Reading Chinese


The basics of the project are as follows: words in Chinese most often consist of component characters which themselves are associated with meaning and/or phonology. There is reason to believe that such sub-character component characters might be activated in reading and thus affect the semantic representation of that word. That is, a sub-character component to a word might bias the meaning of the word such that it is represented in a similar way to other words which also contain that component.

For example, many words in Mandarin contain the component character (called a semantic radical) for “female” (nu3). However, many don’t actually mean anything related to “female” (exx: “envy”, “evil”, “surname”). So, one (of many) interesting question is: does the presence of this component affect the representation of the word which has a meaning that supposedly doesn’t include “female”? Even more, we wonder if the presence of such a component might make the representation of that word be similar to other words which also contain the “female” character, despite the fact that such words don’t actually mean “female”. There are other issues we are thinking about, but this is a key set of questions.

Research Team

  • Mark Seidenberg, PI (Slack: seidenberg)
  • Tianlin Wang, Post-doc at Notre Dame (Slack: twang)
  • Matt Cooper Borkenhagen, LCNL Graduate Student (Slack: mcooperborkenhagen)
  • Xiaofan Lei, LCNL RA (Slack: xiaofan)
  • Yacong “Skye” Wu, KCL RA (Slack: TBD)
  • Sarah Wang , LCNL RA (Slack: sarahwang)
  • Sarah Engel, LCNL RA (Slack: slengel)


Communication & Storage

  • Slack information:
    • LCNL Slack account:
    • Study channel: study-src
  • The study materials are held in Google Drive, access to which will be provided individually by Tianlin and Matt

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