The effects of L1 orthography on processing an artificial logographic script

Ehrich, John Fitzgerald (2008) The effects of L1 orthography on processing an artificial logographic script. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


To date, studies have focused on the acquisition of alphabetic second languages (L2s) in alphabetic first language (L1) users, demonstrating significant transfer effects. The present study examined the process from a reverse perspective, comparing logographic (Mandarin-Chinese) and alphabetic (English) L1 users in the acquisition of an artificial logographic script, in order to determine whether similar language-specific advantageous transfer effects occurred. English monolinguals, English-French bilinguals and Chinese-English bilinguals learned a small set of symbols in an artificial logographic script and were subsequently tested on their ability to process this script in regard to three main perspectives: L2 reading, L2 working memory (WM), and inner processing strategies. In terms of L2 reading, a lexical decision task on the artificial symbols revealed markedly faster response times in the Chinese-English bilinguals, indicating a logographic transfer effect suggestive of a visual processing advantage. A syntactic decision task evaluated the degree to which the new language was mastered beyond the single word level. No L1-specific transfer effects were found for artificial language strings. In order to investigate visual processing of the artificial logographs further, a series of WM experiments were conducted. Artificial logographs were recalled under concurrent auditory and visuo-spatial suppression conditions to disrupt phonological and visual processing, respectively. No L1-specific transfer effects were found, indicating no visual processing advantage of the Chinese-English bilinguals. However, a bilingual processing advantage was found indicative of a superior ability to control executive functions. In terms of L1 WM, the Chinese-English bilinguals outperformed the alphabetic L1 users when processing L1 words, indicating a language experience-specific advantage. Questionnaire data on the cognitive strategies that were deployed during the acquisition and processing of the artificial logographic script revealed that the Chinese-English bilinguals rated their inner speech as lower than the alphabetic L1 users, suggesting that they were transferring their phonological processing skill set to the acquisition and use of an artificial script. Overall, evidence was found to indicate that language learners transfer specific L1 orthographic processing skills to L2 logographic processing. Additionally, evidence was also found indicating that a bilingual history enhances cognitive performance in L2.

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ID Code: 35768
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Meuter, Renata
Keywords: artificial script, bilingual, Chinese reading, inner speech, logography, language transfer, orthographic processing, working memory
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 02:06
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2011 13:52

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