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The Perceptual Span in Reading Chinese Text: A Moving-Window Study

Chih-Hao Tsai and George W. McConkie

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tsai, C. H., & McConkie, G. W. (1995, December). The perceptual span in reading Chinese text: A moving window study. Paper presented at the Seventh International Conference on the Cognitive Processing of Chinese and Other Asian Languages, Hong Kong.


During reading, the information that can be extracted from a given fixation is limited. The perceptual span (effective visual field) on a fixation in reading English text is well studied. Besides, there has been some research on perceptual span in reading Japanese. However, little is known about the perceptual span in reading Chinese text. Since Chinese orthography is quite different from that of alphabetical orthography, it is interesting to investigate how many characters can be perceived during a fixation.

We have developed a program to investigate this issue, placing a 'window' of normal text at the location to which the eyes are directed, with characters outside this region that the reader is not likely to know. Taiwanese students read two passages which were presented a single line at a time, with the size and offset of the window being different on different fixations. An initial analysis suggests that total reading time, mean fixation duration, mean forward saccade length, and mean number of regressions were affected by window sizes and offsets. Additional information about the effect of the window, and its comparison with data from reading English, will be included in the presentation.