Homograph in learning and teaching | 同形異義字的教與學

One common aspect of Chinese character learning is the relatively high prevalence of

homographs. Homographs refer to a single character that has several meanings in different

word contexts. Sometimes, those different meanings are even associated with different

pronunciations. This can happen in other languages too. For example, in English, refuse can

mean either to say you will not do something (a verb) or garbage (noun). However, in

Chinese, homographs are much more common than in some other languages.

Homograph awareness is particular important for children learning to read in Chinese. If a

child lacks awareness that a single character may have different meanings in different words

or contexts, he or she may have difficulties in understanding a novel word containing that

character and may even pronounce it incorrectly in some instances. For example, when ‘中’

is read as [zhōng in Mandarin;zung1 in Cantonese],it always means ‘ middle or in the middle’.

When ‘中’ is read as [zhòng in Mandarin;zung3 in Cantonese], its meaning is ‘ get, have,

obtain.’ Therefore, a child who has learned 中 in the word “中間”(middle) may be confused

when encountering it in 中獎(win a lottery)/中毒(be poisoned); she or he will likely

pronounce it incorrectly in this context as well. Children’s homograph awareness occurs

and develops when they encounter varied vocabulary words sharing the same character They first understand the meaning of the whole words that contain the character that is a

homograph and then go further to analyze and to memorize the meaning of that single

character in context.

Parents and teachers can explicitly point out the phenomenon of homographs to children,

with examples, to promote children’s early development of homograph awareness. Once

children realize a character does not necessarily always have only a single meaning, parents

and teachers can further make use of this discovery to help children to learn novel words

more efficiently. Parents and teachers can present children with a few words sharing the samecharacter and then ask children to group them by different meanings and/or pronunciations.Via this type of practice, children can gain a clear idea of which pronunciation is associated with which meaning, and which group of words is related to that meaning. For illustrations, there is one figure demonstation as shown above. And there are more game demonstrations in simplified Chinese on https://scratch.mit.edu/studios/1046570/. You can make your own set of cards in traditional Chinese instead if needed. As you plan for teaching,make two sets, one for learning and one for a game. The game set can follow my examples. However, for the set for learning, one can use different colors or different objects to indicate words groups, to make it easier and more obvious for children to read and to differentiate. It is also important for parents and teachers to remind children that not all homographs have different pronunciations in different contexts. Otherwise, children may infer that homographs with the same sound have the same meaning by mistake. For example, the character 明 in 明天(tomorrow)and 明亮(brightness)has the same pronunciation [míng in Mandarin;ming4 in Cantonese], despite the difference in meaning in the two contexts.

Because of the existence of homographs, in some instances, learning one character that

carries multiple meanings might still help children to learn a large number of words.

Homograph tasks may be more difficult than homophone tasks, given the fact that children

have to access deeper meanings of the words in a homograph identification exercise.

Therefore, it is likely that homograph awareness develops at older ages than does homophone

awareness, and its influence on reading may also continue to higher grades.

There are some examples in Chinese

快樂[faai3 lok6]音樂[jam1 ngok6]

衣服 [ji1 fuk6] 服從 [fuk6 cung4] 說服 [seoi3 fuk6]

說話[syut3 waa6] 學說[hok6 syut3] 說服 [seoi3 fuk6]

道理[dou6 lei5] 道路[dou6 lou6] 知道[zi1 dou3] 道別[dou6 bit6]

中文[zung1 man1] 中間 [zung1 gaan1] 中獎[zung3 zoeng2] 中毒[zung3 duk6]

明天[ming4 tin1] 明亮[ming4 loeng6] 失明[sat1 ming4] 說明[syut3 ming4] 明白[ming4 baak6]

長度[coeng4 dou6] 長久[coeng4 gau2] 特長[dak2 coeng4] 成長[sing4 zoeng2] 長輩[zoeng2 bui3 ]

好人[hou2 jan4] 友好[jau5 hou2] 好多[hou2 do1] 好奇[hou3 kei4] 喜好[hei2 hou3] 好學[hou3 hok6]

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This article was written by our guest blogger Dr. Mo Jianhong. Dr. Mo is currently a part-time research assistant in the Life Span Development Laboratory of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Mo Jianhong, Part-time Research Assistant, Life Span Development Laboratory Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Email: lanny.mjh@gmail.com


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同形異義字在中文中非常常見。同形異義字是指同一個漢字在不同的詞語中可以有不同的語義。這種現象在其他語言中也有存在。例如英語中,refuse可以表示拒絕(動詞),或者垃圾(名詞)。然而,在中文中,同形異義字的現象比其他語言更為普遍。 同形異義意識對於兒童學習中文閱讀尤為重要。如果兒童缺乏對於單個漢字可以在不同的詞語中表達不同的語義這一現象的認識,那麼兒童在學習包含有同形異義字的新詞語的時候,可能會產生語義理解上的困難,有時甚至會讀錯該字的發音。例如:當「中」在普通話中讀作[zhōng]或在粵語中讀作[zung1]時,通常表達「中間,在......之間」的意思;而當「中」在普通話中讀作[zhòng]或者在粵語中讀作zung3時,通常表達的是「得到」的意思。因此當兒童通過學習「中間」這個詞瞭解到「中」的第一種含義後,在遇到「中獎」、「中毒」這些詞語時,可能會感到困惑,並且很有可能讀錯「中」字的發音。兒童的同形異義意識是在遇到包含某個相同漢字的不同詞語的過程中,建立和發展起來的。兒童通常先學習和瞭解整個詞語的語義,然後進一步分析並記憶該詞語中同形異義字的具體含義。 家長和教師可以通過直接向兒童指出同形異義字這一現象,來促進他們對同形異義字的認識的發展。一旦兒童認識到一個漢字不僅只有一種語義,家長和教師就能進一步運用這種認識,來幫助兒童更有效的學習新的辭彙。家長和老師可以給兒童展示一些包含有同一個單字的詞語,並要求兒童根據該單字的不同語義和/或發音,對這些詞語進行分組 (請參照上圖;更多範例請點擊網站 https://scratch.mit.edu/studios/1046570/ )。通過這種訓練,兒童可以對特定語音和語義的聯結,以及某些詞語和單字的某種語義的關聯有更清晰的認識。如果有需要,家長和教師可以製作符合兒童學習程度的繁體中文版學習卡片。教師在計畫教學時,可以製作兩套卡片,一套用來讓兒童學習,一套用來讓兒童練習。練習用的卡片可以參照上方的範例。而學習用的那套卡片,可以用不同的顏色或者物體來區分不同的詞語分組,以便兒童更容易學習和區分不同語義的詞語小組。 同時,家長和教師也需要提醒兒童,並不是所有的同形異義字都會有多種發音。否則,兒童可能會誤以為發音相同的字就代表相同的語義。事實上,例如「「明」」在「明天」和「明亮」中,普通話都讀作[míng],廣東話都讀作[ming4],儘管「明」字在兩個詞語中的語義完全不同。 在學習一個包含多種語義的單字時,同形異義字便可以幫助兒童學到大量不同的詞語。同形異義字的測試往往比同音字測試難度更大,因為同形異義字的識別過程要求兒童對於詞語的語義有深入的理解。因此,同形異義字意識的發展很可能較同音字意識更遲一些,相應地,它對兒童閱讀的影響也會持續到更高年級。 以下是一些同形異義字的範例(在簡體中文和繁體中文中都適用) 快樂[faai3 lok6]音樂[jam1 ngok6] 衣服 [ji1 fuk6] 服從 [fuk6 cung4] 說服 [seoi3 fuk6] 說話[syut3 waa6] 學說[hok6 syut3] 說服 [seoi3 fuk6] 道理[dou6 lei5] 道路[dou6 lou6] 知道[zi1 dou3] 道別[dou6 bit6] 中文[zung1 man1] 中間 [zung1 gaan1] 中獎[zung3 zoeng2] 中毒[zung3 duk6] 明天[ming4 tin1] 明亮[ming4 loeng6] 失明[sat1 ming4] 說明[syut3 ming4] 明白[ming4 baak6] 長度[coeng4 dou6] 長久[coeng4 gau2] 特長[dak2 coeng4] 成長[sing4 zoeng2] 長輩[zoeng2 bui3 ] 好人[hou2 jan4] 友好[jau5 hou2] 好多[hou2 do1] 好奇[hou3 kei4] 喜好[hei2 hou3] 好學[hou3 hok6]

______________________________________________________________________________________ 此文章由我們的客席博客莫劍宏博士撰寫。莫博士現為香港中文大學心理學系的兼職研究助理。 莫劍宏博士 兼職研究助理 香港中文大學心理學系 生命全期發展實驗室 電郵: lanny.mjh@gmail.com

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