The basic unit of written Chinese is the character, the total number of which in modern usage has been estimated at around 4,600 (Chen, Song, Lau, Wong, & Tang, 2003). A character is a visual-spatial unit occupying a fixed amount of space in print, analogous to the English letter in this respect. Nevertheless, rather than being a sound symbol, each character functions as a lexical morpheme carrying a meaning. In other words, characters are primarily meaning symbols, although they can contain phonetic cues; combining them results in words. Because characters are equally spaced, no visual word boundaries can exist (Chen, 1992, 1996). Copyright © 2006 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
|Title of host publication||Handbook of orthography and literacy|
|Editors||R. Malatesha JOSHI, P. G. AARON|
|Place of Publication||Mahwah, N.J.|
|Publisher||Lawrence Erlbaum Associates|
|ISBN (Electronic)||9780203824719, 9781136781353, 9780203448526|
|ISBN (Print)||0805846522, 0805854673 , 9780805846522, 9780805854671|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|