It is generally assumed that orthographic-phonological (O-P) consistencies are higher for Japanese kana words than for kanji words and that orthographic-semantic (O-S) consistencies are higher for kanji words than for kana words. In order to examine the validity of these assumptions, we attempted to measure the O-P and O-S consistencies for 339 kana words and 775 kanji words. Orthographic neighbors were first generated for each of these words. In order to measure the O-P consistencies of the words, their neighbors were then classified as phonological friends or enemies, based on whether the characters shared with the original word were pronounced the same in the two words. In order to measure the O-S consistencies, the similarity in meaning of each of the neighbors to the original word was rated on a 7-point scale. Based on the ratings, the neighbors were classified as semantic friends or enemies. The results indicated that both the O-P consistencies for kanji words and the O-S consistencies for kana words were greater than previously assumed and that the two scripts were actually quite similar on both types of consistency measures. The implications for the nature of the reading processes for kana and kanji words are discussed.
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