Yi Xu Demystifying the myths — Ignatius and the Chinese writing system Yi Xu University College London & Haskins Laboratories
Link between reading and speech One of the most important contributions of Ignatius Mattingly is to help firmly establish the theoretical link between reading and speech. This was done not only through his proposal of the notion of linguistic awareness, but also through his research on reading in different orthographic systems, especially the Chinese writing system. This can be seen in the following publication list.
An incomplete list of Mattingly’s work on reading in Chinese Ren, N. and Mattingly, I. G. (1990) Short-term serial recall performance by good and poor readers of Chinese. Haskins Laboratories Status Report on Speech Research, 153. Mattingly, I. G. and Xu, Y. (1994). Word superiority in Chinese. In H.-W. Chang, J.- T. Huang, C.-W. Hue, & O.J.L. Tzeng (Eds.), Advances in the study of Chinese language processing. Volume 1.(pp. 101-111). Taipei: Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University. Mattingly, I. G. (1994) Horizontal and vertical views of Chinese psycholinguitics. In H.-W. Chang, J.- T. Huang, C.-W. Hue, & O.J.L. Tzeng (Eds.), Advances in the study of Chinese language processing. Volume 1.(pp. 541-547). Mattingly, I. G. and Ni, W. (1996?) Zhou Youguang and phonological mediation in Chinese. Mattingly, I. G. and Xiao, P. (1999) Are phonetic elements in Chinese characters drawn from a syllabary? Psychologia, 42, 281-289.
Chinese vs. alphabetic orthographies With its characters often regarded as ideograms, the Chinese writing system is widely believed to directly represent meaning. And as such the system is often believed to be fundamentally different from alphabetic systems Based on the modular view of speech (Fodor, 1983; Liberman & Mattingly, 1985), Ignatius argued that the Chinese orthography is only superficially different from alphabetic systems. The superficial differences are nevertheless very useful for research on the mechanisms of reading as well as speech
5 Short-Term Memory (STM) Short-Term Memory (STM) — The ability to retain any material in memory for a brief period of time Phonological Recoding Phonological Recoding — To remember any linguistic material in written form for more than a few milliseconds, humans have to first transform the material into a speech-like form (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974). The phenomenon is well established, but it is not fully clear why recoding has to happen. Also not clear: the exact nature of recoding, e.g., the level of phonology involved – abstract underlying phonemes, or surface phonetic forms? Depth of phonological recoding in short-term memory (Xu, 1992, under the supervision of Mattingly)
6 Ren & Mattingly (1990): Second-grade primary school children who are good readers are penalized more by phonological similarity in the series to be recalled than poor readers. Visual similarity had no effect on either the good readers or the poor readers. STM is simply "the rehearsal of verbal material with the aid of the linguistic mechanism or module that supports speaking and listening, and that necessarily produces phonological representations." According to this account, one would predict that the production of the surface phonetic representations is inevitable, regardless of the nature of the orthography, since all of them are the necessary output of the language module. STM is needed in reading
7 To determine the exact nature of phonological recoding in STM, we can employ the phenomenon that phonological similarity impairs immediate recall of linguistic material For that we need to find linguistic materials that are more similar in surface than in underlying forms An ideal case is the phenomenon of tone sandhi in Mandarin Understanding STM by exploring the depth of phonological recoding
8 The Maindarin tone sandhi phenomenon Low Rise / __ Low Example: Underlying SurfaceGlossary Pinyinmai2 ma3 mai2 ma3 “to bury a horse” ToneRise Low Rise Low Pinyinmai3 ma3 mai2 ma3 “to buy a horse” ToneLow Low Rise Low Perceptually, derived Rise is indistinguishable from original Rise (Wang & Li, 1967; Peng, 2000)
9 We can manipulate tonal combinations so that there is more similarity in the material to be recalled after the application of tone sandhi than before its application. If the surface phonetic representation is produced, immediate recall for this kind of material should be poorer than for material to which no such tone sandhi can apply. If tone sandhi is not applied, immediate recall should be the same for both kinds of material. Does tone sandhi apply in STM?
10 Sandhi List The 1st syllables in all words have the same CV structure, but the tone is either Rise or Low. The second syllables all share the same tone but have different CV structures. The 2nd syllables all have Low tone. Whenever the tone of the 1st syllable is also Low, tone sandhi may apply. If it does, the 1st syllable becomes phonetically indistinct from the other 1st syllable(s) within the same list, which have Rise underlyingly. In this way, all the three first syllables in the list would be phonetically identical. 24 sandhi lists
11 No-Sandhi List The 1st syllables in all words again have the same CV structure, and the tone is either Rise or Low. But the tone of the second syllable is always Fall. No tone sandhi is applicable. The surface tones of the 1st syllables should therefore remain different. 24 no-sandhi lists
12 10 native speakers of Beijing Mandarin, 3 male and 7 female. Each disyllabic sequence was displayed on computer screen for 1 second. After a delay of 0.5 second, the following word appeared. 1.5 seconds after the disappearance of the last word in a list, two short beeps were played and, 1 second later, a probe word appeared and stayed on screen for 2 seconds. The subject’s task was to write down the word that followed the probe in the list just shown. When the probe was " ", they were supposed to write down the first word in the list. Subjects and procedure
13 Results: Sandhi applied in STM! Errors on the first syllables in the Sandhi Lists was 2.5 times as many as on the first syllables in the No-Sandhi Lists, F(1, 9) = 20.02, p < 0.01.
14 Logically, for the task, the best strategy is to memorize the visual forms of the characters or their morphemic identities because they are all different. The second best is to memorize the underlying phonological forms, because there are at least two different tones on the first characters in the Sandhi Lists. The worst is to memorize the surface phonetic forms, which are identical within each Sandhi Lists on the first characters. surface phonetic formsApparently, derivation of surface phonetic forms through the application of the phonological rule is somehow compulsory for STM. STM involves surface phonetic forms
15 But what are the surface forms? H F R L L The divergence starts near the syllable onset! Implication: 1. An articulatory target is set before syllable onset 2. F0 continually approaches the target during the syllable Data from Xu (1997)
The Target Approximation Model (Yi Xu & Qi E. Wang 2001) [rise] [low] Approaching [rise] Approaching [low] Pitch targets as simple linear functions: static or dynamic F0 approaches the target asymptotically The approximation is synchronized with the syllable Basic mechanism of tone articulation: Syllable-synchronized sequential target approximation
17 No anticipation in Target Execution, not even during weak syllables! Mandarin neutral tone before different tones (Chen & Xu, submitted): English unstressed syllable before focused and non- focused words (Xu & Xu, submitted):
18 But plenty of anticipation in Target Assignment, at least by one syllable An articulatory goal is set before the onset of the syllable F0 during the syllable is to approach the pre-set goal The surface contour is the result of goal execution Such execution involves constant monitoring of the goal attainment via both proprioception (Kelso et al., 1984; Tremblay et al., 2003) and auditory feedback (Xu et al., 2004). [rise] [low]
19 Because it is part of the process of assigning articulatory targets Without targets, there can be no articulation! Target assignment is therefore a different process from target execution Target assignment is probably less constrained by physical mechanisms, but it must depend heavily on long-term memory, i.e., the formation and maintenance of specific neural circuitries during language acquisition The process must be so robust that it blindly copies everything from the linguistic input As a result, target assignment is language-specific and “arbitrary”, and often not one-to-one Why does tone sandhi have to apply in speech?
20 superficial As part of target assignment, tone sandhi is therefore not at the most superficial level of articulation, and the sandhi STM experiment of Xu (1992) did not actually assess the effect of the most superficial level of phonetics on STM or reading Studies that probably did: 1.Baddeley, Thomson & Buchanan (1975): When number of syllables and number of phonemes in words are held constant, STM span is inversely related to the temporal duration of the vowels in words 2.Abramson & Goldinger (1997): Lexical decision time is longer for phonetically long stimuli than for phonetically short stimuli, despite equal orthographic lengths. 3.Lukatela, Eaton, Sabadini & Turvey (2004): Vowel duration affects visual word identification Tone sandhi occurs below “surface phonetics”
21 Lukatela et al. (2004): … “latencies were longer for long- vowel words than for short-vowel words in lexical decision but not in naming,” because, “lexical forms are reflected to a lesser degree in naming than in lexical decision.” Naming latency onset Naming latency — the time between the presentation of a target stimulus (a written word, picture, spoken word, or sentence) and the acoustic onset of a spoken response. By this definition, naming latency probably measures the timing of target assignment before execution The assignment process is unlikely to be affected by target length because the length differences are manifested only during execution Naming vs. lexical decision: Measuring target assignment vs. assignment+execution
22 Naming vs. lexical decision: Measuring target assignment vs. assignment+execution Lexical decision Lexical decision time — the time it takes a subject to determine whether an item is a word. Results of the lexical decision experiments suggest that, lexical decision cannot be made until the articulatory execution, even if silent, is over! The “inner ear” has to “hear” the completed “inner speech” before the meaning of a word can be fully accessed! This is even stronger support for what Ignatius has been saying all along: Reading is just taking advantage of our species-specific module for speech
23 Lukatela et al. (2004): “The research challenge now becomes that of specifying the particulars of the phonetically informed phonology that mediates reading and determining the generality of reading's basis in that phonology.” New challenge: Can the phonetic module be decomposed?
24 If so, different behavioral measurements should be affected differently Those that measure target assignment, e.g., naming latency, should be affected more by complexity of target assignment Evidence 1: Seidenberg et al. (1984): Irregular spelling- sound correspondences affect naming more than they affect lexical decision New test: Is naming slower when tone sandhi applies than when it does not apply? And many other possible experiments…! The phonetic module may consist of at least two sub-processes: Target Assignment & Target Execution
25 ConclusionsConclusions As Ignatius has been arguing all along, the Chinese orthography and its reading process are likely just as parasitic on language (Liberman, 1968) as other writing systems. The special characteristics of this ancient orthography nevertheless provides us with rare opportunities for more clearly demonstrating the link between reading and speech, of which Ignatius and his students have made full use. The findings of the tone sandhi STM study, when viewed in conjunction with the Target Approximation model (Xu & Wang, 2001), may have opened a peephole into “the particulars of the phonetically informed phonology that mediates reading ” (Lukatela et al., 2004).