Definition of Terms of Chinese Language Study

Many terms are adopted for the study. For the purposes of this study, the following definition of terms will be used:


Character: The smallest Chinese orthographic unit that has meaning and pronunciation.

Graphemes: The smallest units in a writing system, it is also called written symbol.

Morphemes: The smallest phonological units that carry semantic information.

Morphological awareness: The ability to reflect on and manipulate morphemes and to control word formation processes.

Orthographic awareness: The knowledge of specific conventions and rules concerning the visual and orthographic aspects of print, and the use of this knowledge in reading and literacy acquisition.

Orthographic depth: The regularity of grapheme-phoneme pattern. It is a continuum from the transparent to opaque correspondence between graphemes and phonemes. For transparent orthographies, the relationship is stable and consistent, while for opaque orthographies, the relationship is variable and inconsistent.

Orthography: Visual representation of language as conditioned by phonological, syntactic, morphological, and semantic features of the language. Examples of orthographies are Chinese orthography and English orthography.

Phonological awareness: The ability to reflect upon and manipulate phonological units (such as phonemes, onsets, rhymes, syllables) in a language and may entail sensitivity to the phonological structure of the language.

Component: The basic components of Chinese characters, built on sets of specified strokes (the smallest building materials for characters).

Component Awareness: the knowledge about the positional constraints and functions of components in forming Chinese characters and the ability to use this knowledge consciously in learning characters.

Implicit component awareness: for the purpose of the study, it refers to the knowledge that enables the learners to determine whether a pseudo-character look like a real character and the knowledge to infer the meaning of unfamiliar characters with the help of semantic components.

Explicit component awareness: for the purpose of the study, it refers to the knowledge that semantic and phonetic components have positional and functional regularities and the knowledge that enables students to create pseudo-characters and helps to memorize characters.

Word recognition: the process of retrieving information about a word’s spoken form and meaning from its printed form.

Writing system: Written language described in terms of linguistic units; for example, morpho syllabic language writing (Chinese), syllabic writing (Japanese Kana), alphabetic syllabic system, and alphabetic writing (Italian and Spanish).