Insight into the structure of compound words among speakers of Chinese and English

Zhang Jie, Richard C. Anderson, Wang Qiuying, Jerome Packard, Wu Xinchun, Tang Shan, Ke Xiaoling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Knowledge of compound word structures in Chinese and English was investigated, comparing 435 Chinese and 258 Americans, including second, fourth, and sixth graders, and college undergraduates. As anticipated, the results revealed that Chinese speakers performed better on a word structure analogy task than their English-speaking counterparts. Also, as anticipated, speakers of both languages performed better on noun + noun and verb + particle compounds, which are more productive in their respective languages than noun + verb and verb + noun compounds, which are less productive. Both Chinese and English speakers performed significantly better on novel compounds than on familiar compounds, most likely because familiar compounds are lexicalized and do not invite decomposition into constituents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-779
Number of pages27
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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