Figural symbolism in Chinese ideographs

Asher Koriat, Ilia Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hebrew-speaking subjects were presented with 42 pairs of Chinese characters designating antonymic concepts and were required to match them with their corresponding Hebrew words. Correct translation was significant and was related to foreign language study and academic experience. Highest success was found for the activity domain of the semantic differential and for attributes judged to afford a diagrammatic representation. Examination of the character-referent relationships suggested that translation success was due to principles of figural symbolism rather than to pictographic representation of the attributes in question. The results are seen as suggestive of the effects of figural symbolization on the invention and/or evolution of natural scripts and are discussed in terms of the manner in which the graphic medium has been fashioned to convey abstract concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-365
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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