The present study focuses on the relationship between the shapes of kanji and the difficulty of reproduction for Japanese learners of non-kanji background before they have started kanji learning. In order to examine the influence of various factors of kanji shapes, a kanji shape reproduction task with 30 different kanji was administered among 108 Malay learners of Japanese who had never studied kanji. Next, Decision-tree analysis was employed to clarify the degree of influence of various factors which make the reproduction of kanji difficult. In this analysis, three factors: 1) visual complexity, 2) rectilinearity, and 3) symmetricality are set to predict the completeness of the reproduced kanji shapes.
Results of the analysis reveal the following: 1) the visual complexity of the kanji has the strongest influence on making the reproduction of kanji difficult; 2) non-rectilinear kanji are difficult to reproduce even with low visual complexity; and 3) in kanji with high visual complexity, symmetricality strongly influences the completeness of the reproduced kanji shapes, and asymmetric kanji are difficult to reproduce.
When native Chinese graduate students in Japan read academic papers written in Japanese, what kinds of errors in reading comprehension do they make? In this study, such students were asked to relate in Chinese their understanding as they read. Their errors fell into the four categories below.
(a) Errors concerning the meanings of vocabulary: They made inappropriate guesses about the meanings of words based on the meanings of the individual kanji characters comprising the word or chose an inappropriate translational equivalent from a dictionary when multiple equivalents were provided.
(b) Errors in parsing sentence structure: They were unable to ascertain which parts of a sentence modified which other parts, or which parts were coordinated with which other parts.
(c) Errors in relating to the greater context: They were unable to identify the referents of elided elements or to appropriately identify the intended references of deictic phrases from context.
(d) Errors in relating the content to background knowledge: They were unable to relate the syntactic structures of the papers and the content described in textual descriptions to their own background knowledge.
The purposes of this study were to examine how conventionality affects comprehension of indirect speech acts, and to clarify the reasons why comprehension of both conventional and non-conventional indirect speech acts is challenging. First, we investigated the effect of conventionality on the accuracy and speed of comprehension for 24 Chinese learners of JFL using a pragmatic listening test. Results indicated that conventional indirect disagreement speech acts were easier to understand than non-conventional indirect disagreement speech acts, with quicker reaction times sufficient for comprehension of the former, and slower reaction times for the latter. Also, in order to clarify the reasons why learners have difficulty comprehending these speech acts, we further investigated the learners' comprehension process using the stimulus recall method after the pragmatic listening test. Conventional indirect disagreement speech acts were found to be difficult to understand because "keywords" cannot be used. "Para-linguistic information", "discourse situation", "background knowledge", and "speaker's intention" were factors contributing to the difficulty of comprehending non-conventional indirect speech acts.