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I am looking for any evidence/reference on how L1 Japanese or L1 Chinese people acquire their multiple hanzi/kanji vocabulary. Take as simple as 折り畳み/折叠 (to fold). Words like 食べる/吃 and 飲む/喝 are not considered in this case.

I want to know this because I am curious if they probably might learn their vocabulary by associating the word to its components/parts/elements of every hanzi/kanji constituting the word, not only just its radicals, but I am not sure how they make sense the association (getting the meaning) with those components, though.

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    L1 learners don’t learn characters until long after they’ve learnt the words, so the connection you’re describing doesn’t really exist at all. I don’t know if there’s any difference between how Japanese/Chinese children learn complex lexemes and how, say, English speakers learn comparable lexemes. I would guess it depends on the lexeme fairly universally – the more frequent the individual elements are, the more likely children will learn a compound as the sum of its elements; the less frequent, the more likely they’ll learn it as a single entity and only get the elements later. Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 15:00
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    Take a pair of (Chinese) words like 水平 ‘level’ and 普通 ‘common’ as an example. 水平 is made up words meaning ‘water’ and ‘flat’, both words that children will probably learn very early on – certainly earlier than ‘level’. Conversely, 普通 is fairly common (!) and will be learnt quite early on, whereas 普 ‘wide, universal’ by itself is relatively rare and 通 ‘pass through, allow passage’ is likely to be learnt later than ‘common’. So 水平 will likely be initially learnt as ‘water-flat = level’, whereas 普通 will likely just be learnt as ‘common’, only later analysed into components. Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 15:12

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