Where Do Chinese Readers Send Their Eyes?

Jie Li Tsai, George W. McConkie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In Chinese text, there is no perceptual indicator of where words begin and end; rather, the perceptually prominent units are characters. This chapter discusses whether the eyes are sent to words or characters when reading Chinese. Properties of both words and characters affect the likelihood of landing on a given character. Unlike alphabetic languages, there is no tendency for the eyes to land more frequently at the centers of Chinese words but neither is there a tendency to land more frequently at the centers of characters. Modern-written Chinese usually consists of horizontally arrayed strings of characters, going from left to right. Chinese characters can be regarded as the perceptual units of the Chinese written system because of their spatial structure and language function. These characters vary greatly in their apparent complexity, which can be roughly indexed by the number of strokes required to write them, ranging from one to more than thirty. Another attribute of Chinese characters is that they are the written units of spoken language and usually map onto morphemes and syllables in the modem system. These attributes of characters suggest that the characters should be the basic units of reading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Mind's Eye
Subtitle of host publicationCognitive and Applied Aspects of Eye Movement Research
EditorsJ Hyönä, R Radach, H Deubel
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780080518923
ISBN (Print)9780444510204
StatePublished - Jun 5 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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