Development of morphological awareness in Chinese and English

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of morphological awareness in Chinese and English was investigated in the current study involving 412 Taiwanese and 256 American students in second, fourth, and sixth grades. The results from both Chinese-speaking and English-speaking students indicate that the morphological awareness develops with grade level and is strongly related to reading ability. More proficient readers outperformed less proficient readers when asked to (1) recognize morphological relationships between words, (2) discriminate word parts having the same or different meanings, (3) select the best interpretations of low-frequency derivatives and compounds composed of high-frequency parts, and (4) judge the well-formedness of novel derivatives and compounds. Chinese students' acquisition of derivational morphology seems to lag behind that of compounding rules, which might reflect the nature of Chinese word formation in that there are far fewer derivatives than compounds in Chinese.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-422
Number of pages24
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2003


  • Chinese
  • Morphological awareness
  • Vocabulary acquisition
  • Word formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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