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Lexicalization Degree of Figurative Meaning Affects the Mental Organization of Body-Related Metaphorical Words in Chinese

Author(s): Aitao Lu | John X. Zhang | Lei Mo | Jijia Zhang | Yuxiao Dang | Jinwang Yu

Journal: International Journal of Psychological Studies
ISSN 1918-7211

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2010;
Original page

The purpose of the present study was to examine how body-related Chinese metaphorical words are organizedwhen the degree of lexicalization is taken into consideration. Three experiments were conducted usingmultidimensional scaling (MDS) and a priming paradigm. The results in Exp. 1 and 2 indicated that thedispersion of metaphorical words was influenced by degree of lexicalization to produce a clear separationbetween a cluster of highly lexicalized metaphorical words (HM) and a cluster of body-part words (BW) withpartially lexicalized metaphorical words (LM) scattering between these two clusters. Semantic priming effectbased on a word’s literal meaning was then assessed in Exp. 3 by contrasting a picture-word match conditionwith a picture-word mismatch condition using these three types of words. Significant positive priming effect wasfound for the BW words but not the LM words, while a reversed inhibitory effect was found for the HM words.Briefly, with the direct evidence from Exp. 1 and 2 showing a unique dispersion in the Euclidean distance mapand the indirect evidence from Exp. 3 revealing the existence of literal meanings for the LM but not the HMwords, this study showed that metaphorical words are organized based on their degree of lexicalization.

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Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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