Age of acquisition effects on traditional Chinese character naming and lexical decision
Abstract: Across languages, age of acquisition (AoA) is a critical psycholinguistic factor in lexical processing, reflecting the influence of learning experience. Early-acquired words tend to be processed more quickly and accurately than late-acquired words. Recently, an integrated view proposed that both the mappings between representations and the construction of semantic representations contribute to AoA effects, thus, predicting larger AoA effects for words with arbitrary mappings between representations as well as for tasks requiring greater semantic processing. We investigated how these predictions generalize to the Chinese language system that differs from alphabetic languages regarding the ease of mappings and semantic involvement in lexical processing. A cross-task investigation of differential psycholinguistic effects was conducted with large character naming and lexical decision datasets to establish the extent to which semantics is involved in the two tasks. We focused on examining the effect sizes of lexical-semantic variables and AoA, and the interaction between AoA and consistency. The results demonstrated that semantics influenced Chinese character naming more than lexical decision, which is in contrast with the findings related to English language, though, critically, AoA effects were more pronounced for character naming than for lexical decision. Additionally, an interaction between AoA and consistency was found in character naming. Our findings provide cross-linguistic evidence supporting the view of multiple origins of AoA effects in the language-processing system.