Words and meaning: How the lexical encoding of technical concepts contributes to their mental representation

Abstract

Some specialist concepts can be encoded either with words of Greek or Latin origin or in everyday language terms. These synonyms are expected to indicate to the same underlying meaning. This study investigates whether the origin of technical terms influences their mental representation as well as subjective feelings of knowing. The linguistic encoding of specialist concepts can be assumed to impact the connotation and complexity transmitted to the recipient. As expected, everyday language technical terms (ELTT) were perceived to be more easily defined, more familiar, and more easily accessible than technical terms of Greek and Latin origin (GLTT). Consequently, participants estimated ELTT to be better understood. Theoretical and practical implementations for communication in learning contexts are discussed.


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