How does expertise contribute to the recognition of Latin and Chinese characters?

Mary C. Dyson, Keith Tam, Clare Leake, Sze Hang Kwok

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Are characters in writing systems (e.g. Latin or Chinese) perceived in the same way as objects or do we process characters in a different way? Previous research [Gauthier et al., 2006] has suggested that readers familiar with a writing system are able to take advantage of the stylistic regularities in typefaces, whereas those without this expertise cannot. The experiments described in this chapter explore whether a different form of expertise, acquired through design training, also affects our perception of unfamiliar characters, meaningless shapes if we cannot read the script. A comparison was made of Chinese bilinguals and English monolinguals and those with and without design expertise. All participants were asked to discriminate between strings of characters in both Latin and Chinese and in different typefaces. The results reveal that non-designers are more susceptible to interference from incongruent font information than designers, particularly in an unfamiliar, or less familiar, writing system. However, design expertise appears to facilitate the abstraction of the character shapes from the stylistic variations. These results were found in UK students and not the more fluent bilingual students in Hong Kong suggesting the need for further exploration of the effects of different types and levels of expertise on character recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Fonts and Reading
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789814759540
ISBN (Print)9789814759533
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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