Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Second Language Studies

First Advisor

Tamara Warhol

Second Advisor

Vance Schaefer

Third Advisor

Whitney Sarver


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Orthography-phonology mapping in world languages exhibits variations. Extensive research has investigated whether orthographic-phonological consistency impacts the cognitive processing of written words. A major body of work has focused on the recognition of phonographic first language (L1) written words. Results show that the more transparent the orthography, the more reliance on phonological processing, and vice versa (Katz & Frost, 1992). Another body of work has paid attention to the cognitive process of identifying Chinese characters because of their logographic nature. These studies have mostly focused on recognizing L1 Chinese words (including both simplified and traditional written words) (Perfetti & Zhang, 1995; Wong, Wu & Chen, 2014). However, both lines of research do not clarify whether the orthographic transparency of phonographic writing systems impacts the recognition of logographic L2 words. This study aims to address this gap by investigating how beginner Chinese learners, whose native writing systems were phonographic but with varying phonological-orthographic consistencies, process Chinese as a second language (L2) written words. Through online training sessions and a lexical decision task of beginner Chinese learners whose L1 writing systems have various levels of transparency (i.e., English, Arabic, and Italian), it investigated whether learners with different phonographic L1s were capable of processing Chinese characters orthographically, and the influences of different L1 phonological-orthographic consistencies on their processing patterns on recognizing L2 Chinese printed words. The results showed that all participants, regardless of their L1 orthographic transparency, used both orthographic and phonological processing paths, but with different levels. They also showed that L1 orthographic transparency impacted the recognition of L2 Chinese written words. These findings have implications for L2 learning and pedagogy, suggesting that L1 orthographic transparency should be considered in learning or teaching L2 Chinese characters. It also indicates the need for further research on the impact of L1 orthographic transparency on the recognition of L2 logographic written words.



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