ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (4): 391-405.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00391

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  1. (1广州中医药大学经济与管理学院, 广州 510006) (2中国人民大学心理学系, 北京 100873) (3华南师范大学心理应用研究中心, 广州 510631)
  • 收稿日期:2012-03-29 发布日期:2013-04-25 出版日期:2013-04-25
  • 通讯作者: 张积家

Effect of Semantic Decomposability on Understanding of Chinese Three-Character Idioms

MA Lijun;ZHANG Jijia;DU Kai   

  1. (1 School of Economy and Management, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510006, China) (2 Departmemt of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100873, China) (3 Center for Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China)
  • Received:2012-03-29 Online:2013-04-25 Published:2013-04-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Jijia

摘要: 惯用语是比喻性语言的一种。语义分解性的作用是惯用语理解机制争论的焦点。通过语义启动任务, 探究了汉语动宾结构的惯用语和偏正结构的惯用语的意义理解模式, 揭示语义分解性在短的SOA (300 ms)和长的SOA (800 ms)下的作用。结果发现, 语义分解性独立地影响惯用语的意义激活:当SOA短时, 语义高分解的两类惯用语均表现出显著的字面义激活效应; 当SOA长时, 语义低分解的偏正结构的惯用语的意义激活的正确率优势明显。同时, 两类惯用语的语义分解性不同导致了语义激活启动效应的差异:当SOA短时, 语义低分解的动宾结构的惯用语存在两种意义的激活效应, 语义高分解的动宾结构的惯用语和偏正结构的惯用语存在字面义的激活效应; 当SOA长时, 语义低分解的动宾结构的惯用语存在两种意义的激活效应, 语义高分解的偏正结构的惯用语存在比喻义的激活效应。研究证实语义分解性在惯用语加工早期即发挥作用, 在加工晚期, 语义高分解的动宾结构的惯用语的多种意义同时激活削弱了两种意义的启动优势。整个研究结果支持惯用语理解的混合表征模型和层级显性意义假说。

关键词: 语义分解性, 惯用语, 语义激活, 字面义, 比喻义

Abstract: Idiomatic expressions are widely used as one of figurative languages when people sensed that idiom contained more than its surface meaning. For a long time, researchers have done a lot of work studying the mechanism of processing idioms, and two models were proposed: noncompositional model and compositional model. Those two models, however, can only explain one aspect of processing idioms. Therefore, hybrid model (Cutting & Bock, 1997) came into being in explaning how people process idioms: top-down process and bottom-up process co-exist. Compositionality was introduced in psycholinguistics by Gibbs and his colleagues (Gibbs, Nayak, & Cutting, 1989), and later developed into the so-called idiom semantic decomposition hypothesis, which made great contribution to generating hybrid model. According to this view, idioms are at least partly decomposable, and speakers have shared intuitions about how the meanings of the parts contribute to the idiomatic meaning. The degree of analyzability determines the access of idioms’ figarative meaning. During recent years, semantic analyzability has become very popular among psycholinguists, and the claims of the idiom semantic decomposition hypothesis are now widely accepted (Libben & Titone, 2008). Some questions remain unsettled, however, including: (1) whether semantic decomposability affects understanding idioms independently; (2) if so, how semantic decomposability affects it; (3) whether semantic decomposition hypothesis is suitable in processing Chinese modifier-noun structure; (4) which model can be applied in accessing Chinese three-character idioms. The present study tried to answer those questions by exploring semantic priming task to investigate how Chinese three-character idioms with verb-object structure and with modifier-noun structure were processed. We intended to reveal the role semantic decomposability played in processing idioms in early (SOA=300ms in Experiment 1) and later (SOA=800ms in Experiment 2) period. The results showed that semantic decomposability affected semantic activation independently. In early period, as to high decomposable idioms with verb-object structure and with modifier-noun structure, we found significant activation in their literal meanings; on the other hand, in later period, as to low decomposable idioms with modifier-noun structure, we found significant accuracy in activating literal and figurative meanings. The results also showed that the degree of semantic decomposability resulted in different effects of semantic priming. In early period, as to low decomposable idioms with verb-object structure, we found significant activation in both literal and figurative meanings, and we found activation in literal meanings when idioms with verb-object structure and with modifier-noun structure were high decomposable. In later period, significant activation in both literal and figurative meanings was found in low decomposable idioms with verb-object structure. But significant activation in figurative meanings was only found in high decomposable idioms with modifier-noun structure. These results supported the notion that semantic decomposability plays a role in processing idioms in early period; while in later period, as to high decomposable idioms with verb-object structure, the simultaneous activation of literal and figuratvie meanings weakens the advantage of semantic priming. So we made conclusions that (1) semantic decomposability independently affects understanding idioms; (2) figurative meanings are activated more easily when idioms are low semantic decomposable; whereas literal meanings tend to be easily activated when idioms are high semantic decomposable; (3) the privilege of activation in literal meaning exists in processing idioms. All those results partly support the Graded Salience Hypothesis and hybrid hypothesis.

Key words: semantic decomposability, idiom, semantic activation, literal meaning, figurative meaning