The Representation of Concrete and Abstract Concepts: Categorical Versus Associative Relationships
Schnur, Tatiana T.
In 4 word-translation experiments, we examined the different representational frameworks theory (Crutch & Warrington, 2005; 2010) that concrete words are represented primarily by category, whereas abstract words are represented by association. In our experiments, Chinese-English bilingual speakers were presented with an auditory Chinese word and 3 or 4 written English words simultaneously and asked to select the English word that corresponded to the auditory word. For both abstract and concrete words, higher error rates and longer response times were observed when the English words were categorically or associatively related compared to the unrelated conditions and the magnitude of the categorical effect was bigger than the associative effect. These results challenge the different representational frameworks theory and suggest that although category and association are important for representing abstract and concrete concepts, category plays a greater role for both types of words.
bilingual translation; concrete and abstract words; semantic categorical and associative effects; semantic processing