The modulation of semantic transparency on the recognition memory for two-character Chinese words

Yi Jhong Han, Shuo Chieh Huang, Chia Ying Lee, Wen Jui Kuo, Shih Kuen Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study demonstrated that semantic transparency as a linguistic property modulates the recognition memory for two-character Chinese words, with opaque words (i.e., words whose meanings cannot be derived from constituent characters—e.g., “光[/guang/, light]棍[/gun/, stick]”, bachelor) remembered better than transparent words (i.e., words whose meanings can be derived from constituent characters—e.g., “茶[/cha/, tea]杯[/bei/, cup]”, teacup). In Experiment 1, the participants made lexical decisions on transparent words, opaque words, and nonwords in the study and then engaged in an old/new recognition test. Experiment 2 employed a concreteness judgment as the encoding task to ensure equivalent semantic processing for opaque and transparent words. In Experiment 3, the neighborhood size of the two-character words was manipulated together with their semantic transparency. In all three experiments, opaque words were found to be better remembered than transparent words. We concluded that the conceptual incongruence between the meanings of a whole word and its constituent characters made opaque words more distinctive and, hence, better remembered than transparent words.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1324
Number of pages10
JournalMemory & Cognition
Volume42
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Recognition memory
  • Remember/know
  • Semantic transparency

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