Individual differences in the integration of information from context and word parts in interpreting unknown kanji words

  • Mori Y
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This study examines individual differences in the ability to integrate information from word parts and context in interpreting novel kanji compounds (i.e., words consisting of two or more Chinese characters). To account for different approaches that students take to infer the meanings of unfamiliar words, the study also investigates the relationship between students' beliefs about the effectiveness of using kanji and/or contextual clues and their abilities to use the clue(s). A total of 74 English-speaking college students learning Japanese inferred the meanings of unknown compounds consisting of familiar characters under three conditions (words in isolation, contextual clues only, and both). The effects of the two sources appeared additive when examined across all participants. Further analysis, however, indicated that nearly half the students did not combine the two sources and overrelied on either kanji or contextual clues. The inability to integrate information and overreliance on kanji clues modestly but statistically significantly correlated with belief in the efficacy of an integration strategy. The combined effect of multiple sources of information, therefore, must be interpreted in terms of individual differences.

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  • Yoshiko Mori

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