Blog Archives

Lexical and syntactic representations in closely related languages: Evidence from Cantonese–Mandarin bilinguals

Bilinguals appear to have shared syntactic representations for similar constructions between languages but retain distinct representations for noncognate translation-equivalents (Schoonbaert, Hartsuiker, & Pickering, 2007). We inquire whether bilinguals have more integrated representations of cognate translation-equivalents. To investigate this, we report two structural priming experiments in which participants heard dative sentences in Mandarin or Cantonese and described pictures using Mandarin (Experiment 1) or Cantonese (Experiment 2). We found that cognate verbs between the prime and the target led to a smaller boost than same verbs. This difference in priming could not be attributed to more phonological overlap between same verbs (i.e., identical) than between cognate verbs (i.e., similar but not identical). These results suggest that cognate verbs have separate rather than shared lemma representations across languages, even though their associated syntactic information appears to be collectively represented. Furthermore, we found an advantage for within-language priming over between-language priming. We interpreted this advantage as the result of a language node passing activation to all the lemmas linked to it. Implications for bilingual lexical and syntactic representation and processing are discussed.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

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Latent factor structure of the Das-Naglieri Cognitive Assessment System: A confirmatory factor analysis in a Chinese setting

This study aims to measure the psychometric properties of the Das-Naglieri Cognitive Assessment System (D-N CAS) and to determine its clinical utility in a Chinese context. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to examine the construct validity of the Chinese version of the D-N CAS among a group of 567, normally developed children. Test–retest reliability was examined in a random subsample of 30 children at a five-week interval. The clinical discrimination of the D-N CAS was also examined by comparing children with and without ADHD (18 children in each group) and by comparing children with and without Chinese reading disabilities (18 children in each group). The current Chinese sample demonstrated a four-factor solution for cognitive performance among children with normal development: Planning, Attention, Simultaneous processing and Successive processing (χ2(48) = 91.90, p = .000; χ2/df = 1.92, RMSEA = .050, GFI = .966, CFI = .954). Moreover, all subtests of the battery demonstrated acceptable test–retest reliability (r = .72–.90, p < .01) at a five-week interval among the subjects of the small subsample. Children with ADHD performed significantly worse than normal children on the Attention factor (p < .001) and the Planning factor (p < .05) of the D-N CAS, and children with Chinese reading disabilities performed significantly worse than normal children on the Simultaneous processing factor (p < .01), the Successive processing factor (p < .001) and the Planning factor (p < .05) of the D-N CAS. These findings suggested that the current four-factor structure of the D-N CAS was similar to the original factor structure of the test. The latent factor of the D-N CAS was fairly stable across the cultures. Moreover, the D-N CAS can distinguish between children with ADHD or Chinese reading disabilities and normally developed children.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

Speed-difficulty trade-off in speech: Chinese versus English

This study continues the investigation of the previously described speed-difficulty trade-off in picture description tasks. In particular, we tested a hypothesis that the Mandarin Chinese and American English are similar in showing logarithmic dependences between speech time and index of difficulty (ID), while they differ significantly in the amount of time needed to describe simple pictures, this difference increases for more complex pictures, and it is associated with a proportional difference in the number of syllables used. Subjects (eight Chinese speakers and eight English speakers) were tested in pairs. One subject (the Speaker) described simple pictures, while the other subject (the Performer) tried to reproduce the pictures based on the verbal description as quickly as possible with a set of objects. The Chinese speakers initiated speech production significantly faster than the English speakers. Speech time scaled linearly with ln(ID) in all subjects, but the regression coefficient was significantly higher in the English speakers as compared with the Chinese speakers. The number of errors was somewhat lower in the Chinese participants (not significantly). The Chinese pairs also showed a shorter delay between the initiation of speech and initiation of action by the Performer, shorter movement time by the Performer, and shorter overall performance time. The number of syllables scaled with ID, and the Chinese speakers used significantly smaller numbers of syllables. Speech rate was comparable between the two groups, about 3 syllables/s; it dropped for more complex pictures (higher ID). When asked to reproduce the same pictures without speaking, movement time scaled linearly with ln(ID); the Chinese performers were slower than the English performers. We conclude that natural languages show a speed-difficulty trade-off similar to Fitts’ law; the trade-offs in movement and speech production are likely to originate at a cognitive level. The time advantage of the Chinese participants originates not from similarity of the simple pictures and Chinese written characters and not from more sloppy performance. It is linked to using fewer syllables to transmit the same information. We suggest that natural languages may differ by informational density defined as the amount of information transmitted by a given number of syllables.

from Experimental Brain Research

The Effects of Input-Based Practice on Pragmatic Development of Requests in L2 Chinese

This study examined the effects of input-based practice on developing accurate and speedy requests in second-language Chinese. Thirty learners from intermediate-level Chinese classes were assigned to an intensive training group (IT), a regular training group (RT), and a control group. The IT and the RT groups practiced using four Chinese request-making forms via computerized structured input activities over 2 consecutive days. During this time, the IT group practiced using the request-making forms twice as much as the RT group. The control group did not practice. The results show that the input-based practice was effective in promoting accuracy in an Oral Discourse Completion Task and in enhancing speed in a Pragmatic Listening Judgment Task. No other effects of practice were observed.

from Language Learning

The comparison of the visuo-spatial abilities of dyslexic and normal students in Taiwan and Hong Kong

This study focused on a comparison of the visuo-spatial abilities (correct rate and speed) between dyslexic and normal students in Taiwan and Hong Kong. There were a total of 120 10–12 year old students. Thirty students had been diagnosed as dyslexic in Taiwan (T.W. dyslexia) and thirty students had been diagnosed as dyslexic in Hong Kong (H.K. dyslexia). Overall, 30 of the Taiwanese participants (T.W. normal) and 30 of the Hong Kong participants (H.K. normal) had received no special education. Dyslexic individuals were diagnosed by the doctors’ clinical determination. The material was designed using Autodesk 3ds Max. The participants rotated 3D figures by themselves to find a ball. The results indicated that there was very little difference between dyslexic and normal students. However, the most significant difference between dyslexic and normal student was answering speed, especially in the combined data and the male data. An one-way ANOVA test indicated that in terms of rate and answering speed there was no difference between the H.K. and the T.W. dyslexics. Similar results were also found for the students with normal reading abilities in T.W. and H.K. The criterions for defining the visuo-spatial abilities of dyslexia students appear to be similar in Taiwan and Hong Kong. In addition, there is no difference between students’ visuo-spatial abilities even though Chinese literacy instructions differed in the two areas.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Assessment of the Velopharyngeal Mechanism at Rest and During Speech in Chinese Adults and Children

Conclusion: The proportion of the velopharyngeal mechanism remains stable in young children and adults so that the motions of the velum and pharyngeal walls are adequate to close the velopharyngeal port completely.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

The audiological characteristics of a hereditary Y-linked hearing loss in a Chinese ethnic Tujia pedigree

The audiometric configuration in males of the pedigree is consistent with the hereditary Y-linked hearing loss. Thus we speculate that a putative gene on the Y chromosome could contribute to the cause of the disease.

from the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

Development of the language subtest in a developmental assessment scale to identify Chinese preschool children with special needs

This study reports on the development of the language subtest in the Preschool Developmental Assessment Scale (PDAS) for Cantonese-Chinese speaking children. A pilot pool of 158 items covering the two language modalities and the three language domains was developed. This initial item set was subsequently revised based on Rasch analyses of data from 324 multi-stage randomly selected children between 3 and 6 years of age. The revised 106-item set demonstrated adequate measurement properties, including targeting and uni-dimensionality. The revised 106-item set successfully discriminated preschool children in the three age groups, and between preschool children and their age peers with special education needs (SEN). Results from this study support the collection of normative data from a larger population sample of children to examine its accuracy in identifying language impairment in children with SEN. Test development procedures reported in this study provide insight for the development of language subtests in multi-domain developmental assessment tools for children speaking other varieties of Chinese.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

Contribution of discourse and morphosyntax skills to reading comprehension in Chinese dyslexic and typically developing children

This study aimed at identifying important skills for reading comprehension in Chinese dyslexic children and their typically developing counterparts matched on age (CA controls) or reading level (RL controls). The children were assessed on Chinese reading comprehension, cognitive, and reading-related skills. Results showed that the dyslexic children performed significantly less well than the CA controls but similarly to RL controls in most measures. Results of multiple regression analyses showed that word-level reading-related skills like oral vocabulary and word semantics were found to be strong predictors of reading comprehension among typically developing junior graders and dyslexic readers of senior grades, whereas morphosyntax, a text-level skill, was most predictive for typically developing senior graders. It was concluded that discourse and morphosyntax skills are particularly important for reading comprehension in the non-inflectional and topic-prominent Chinese system.

from the Annals of Dyslexia

Task effects in the mid-fusiform gyrus: A comparison of orthographic, phonological, and semantic processing of Chinese characters

The left mid-fusiform gyrus is repeatedly reported to be involved in visual word processing. Nevertheless, it is controversial whether this area responds to orthographic processing of reading. To examine this idea, neural activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging in the present study while subjects performed phonological, semantic, and orthographic tasks with Chinese characters under equivalent task difficulties. One region in the left mid-fusiform gyrus exhibited greater activity during the orthographic task than during the phonological and semantic tasks, which did not differ, suggesting that this region is involved in orthographic processing to a greater extent than phonological or semantic processing. In addition, a region in the right mid-fusiform gyrus exhibited a similar effect. This right mid-fusiform activity may relate to the use of pictorial Chinese characters.

from Brain and Language

The Nature of the Automatization Deficit in Chinese Children with Dyslexia

Clarifying whether automatization deficits constitute the primary causes or symptoms of developmental dyslexia, we focused on three critical issues of the dyslexic automatization deficit, namely universality, domain specificity, and severity. Thirty Chinese dyslexic children (mean age 10 years and 5 months), 30 chronological-age-, and 30 reading-level-matched children were tested in 4 areas of automaticity: motor, visual search, Stroop facilitation effects, and automatic word recognition. The results showed that the dyslexic children performed significantly worse than the CA-controls but not the RL-controls in all the tasks except for Stroop congruent-color words, on which they performed worse than children in both control groups. The deficits reflect a lag in reading experiences rather than a persistent cognitive deficit.

from Child Neuropsychology

A Componential Approach for Bilingual Reading and Comparative Writing System Research: The Role of Phonology in Chinese Writing as a Test Case

The special circumstances of bilingual and second language literacy learning offer investigators an important additional vantage point from which to better understand the components of reading ability. Cross-writing system comparisons complement this perspective. Comparing writing systems and how children learn to read through the medium of each system provides for tests of a number of hypotheses currently under discussion. One particularly instructive series of tests involves the contrast between alphabetic and nonalphabetic writing systems. This review of the research will examine proposals related to the role of phonology in word identification with a special focus on the morphosyllabic/logographic Chinese orthography. A componential, or modular, approach to the study of reading ability will be evaluated in relation to claims made from different perspectives on the question of the activation of phonological representations in reading. In particular, is the Universal Phonological Principle, proposed by C. Perfetti, compatible with a modular approach to the study of reading ability?

from Studies in Second Language Acquisition

Processing the Chinese language: An introduction

Abstract
The Chinese language possesses linguistic properties that are distinct from those of the most widely studied European languages. Given such uniqueness, research on the neurocognitive processing of Chinese not only contributes to our understanding of language-specific cognitive processes but also sheds light on the universality of psycholinguistic models developed on the basis of these European languages. In this Introduction, we briefly review neurocognitive studies on the processing of Chinese in the past ten years, summarizing existing findings concerning lexical, sentential, and discourse processing in Chinese.

from Language and Cognitive Processes

High Prevalence of the Connexin 26 (GJB2) Mutation in Chinese Cochlear Implant Recipients

Background: The GJB2 gene, mapping to chromosome 13q12, encodes a gap junction protein, connexin 26, and is responsible for certain forms of congenital deafness, such as DFNB1 and DFNA3. Mutations of this gene are responsible for about one half of severe autosomal recessive non-syndromic deafness. Methods: To determine whether GJB2 mutations are major causes of deafness in Chinese cochlear implant recipients, we enrolled 115 cochlear implant recipients for mutation screening. Results: The results showed that 36.5% (42/115) of all cochlear implant recipients and 41% (41/100) of non-syndromic deafness patients exhibit GJB2 mutations; only 1 inner ear malformation patient was detected with GJB2 mutations. The present study found 11 different variations in the GJB2 gene. Conclusion: The 235delC mutation was the most prevalent mutation, found in 18.3% (42/230 alleles) of all cochlear implant recipients and 21.0% (42/200 alleles) of the non-syndromic deafness group. Only 0.6% of GJB2 mutations were detected in the inner ear malformation group. The novel 187GT mutations are likely to be pathological mutations.

from ORL -Journal for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Its Related Specialties

High Prevalence of the Connexin 26 (GJB2) Mutation in Chinese Cochlear Implant Recipients

Background: The GJB2 gene, mapping to chromosome 13q12, encodes a gap junction protein, connexin 26, and is responsible for certain forms of congenital deafness, such as DFNB1 and DFNA3. Mutations of this gene are responsible for about one half of severe autosomal recessive non-syndromic deafness. Methods: To determine whether GJB2 mutations are major causes of deafness in Chinese cochlear implant recipients, we enrolled 115 cochlear implant recipients for mutation screening. Results: The results showed that 36.5% (42/115) of all cochlear implant recipients and 41% (41/100) of non-syndromic deafness patients exhibit GJB2 mutations; only 1 inner ear malformation patient was detected with GJB2 mutations. The present study found 11 different variations in the GJB2 gene. Conclusion: The 235delC mutation was the most prevalent mutation, found in 18.3% (42/230 alleles) of all cochlear implant recipients and 21.0% (42/200 alleles) of the non-syndromic deafness group. Only 0.6% of GJB2 mutations were detected in the inner ear malformation group. The novel 187GT mutations are likely to be pathological mutations.

from ORL -Journal for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Its Related Specialties