Extensive evidence from alphabetic languages demonstrates a role of orthography in the processing of spoken words. Because alphabetic systems explicitly code speech sounds, such effects are perhaps not surprising. However, it is less clear whether orthographic codes are involuntarily accessed from spoken words in languages with non-alphabetic systems, in which the sound-spelling correspondence is largely arbitrary. We investigated the role of orthography via a semantic relatedness judgment task: native Mandarin speakers judged whether or not spoken word pairs were related in meaning. Word pairs were either semantically related, orthographically related, or unrelated. Results showed that relatedness judgments were made faster for word pairs that were semantically related than for unrelated word pairs. Critically, orthographic overlap on semantically unrelated word pairs induced a significant increase in response latencies. These findings indicate that orthographic information is involuntarily accessed in spoken-word recognition, even in a non-alphabetic language such as Chinese.
- Spoken word Recognition
- Semantic relatedness judgment task