Reading Chinese

Him CHEUNG, Catherine MCBRIDE-CHANG, Bonnie Wing-Yin CHOW

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

21 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of orthography and literacy
EditorsR. Malatesha JOSHI, P. G. AARON
Place of PublicationMahwah, N.J.
PublisherLawrence Erlbaum Associates
ISBN (Electronic)9780203824719, 9781136781353, 9780203448526
ISBN (Print)0805846522, 0805854673 , 9780805846522, 9780805854671
Publication statusPublished - 2006


Cheung, H., McBride-Chang, C., & Chow, B. W.-Y. (2006). Reading Chinese. In R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy (pp. 421-438). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


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