Data analysis of Chinese characters in primary school corpora of Hong Kong and mainland China: Preliminary theoretical interpretations

Flora Hoi Ki Chung, Man Tak Leung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Metalinguistic awareness (an awareness about the structure of orthography) had been considered vital for reading acquisition. The awareness of phonological regularity and consistency had been found in advanced readers in recent research. Evidence based on simplified Chinese suggested the effect of semantic transparency on reading in school readers. Studies based on traditional Chinese also reported that reading acquisition, including the development of metalinguistic awareness, is affected by script, properties of characters in school curricula, approaches and strategies of reading training. This paper reports the comparison between corpora of simplified Chinese characters based on primary school textbooks and the updated Hong Kong Corpus of Primary School Chinese (HKCPSC). The proportion of characters in the total curriculum, the ratio of phonetic-semantic compounds, visual complexity (defined by the number of strokes) and the levels of phonetic regularity and semantic transparency of Chinese characters across grades in the two corpora are compared. Two marked differences found are the frequency-weighted proportion of regular characters and the proportion of semantically transparent characters across grades. The relationships between the data and recent findings of reading development in Chinese are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-389
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese, school-age
  • Corpora analysis
  • Metalinguistic awareness
  • Reading development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

Cite this