Semantic transparency and translucency in compound blissymbols

Sara Carmeli, Yeshayahu Shen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Blissymbolics is a graphic symbol system used for communication by individuals whose speech is nonfunctional. The transparency and translucency of Blissymbolics have been viewed in the context of the visual relationship between symbols and their referents. This article suggests a new perspective in the study of Blissymbolic transparency and translucency that is semantic conceptual. At present, only compound symbols are discussed. Semantic transparency/translucency is conceived in this article as representing the relationship between the composite meaning of symbol components and the symbol referent. This relationship is measured by guessability, and by subject rating of degree of agreement between the composite meaning of symbol components and the symbol referent. We hypothesized that semantic transparency/translucency is affected by referent prototypicality or uniqueness, and by the interpretation of thematic relationships of symbol components. In the present study, we investigated the effect of referent prototypicality. An experiment administered to nondisabled adult subjects demonstrated the contribution of referent prototypicality to semantic transparency/translucency. Implications for Blissymbol codability are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-183
Number of pages13
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1998


  • Aided symbols
  • Blissymbols
  • Conceptual representation
  • Iconicity
  • Prototypicality
  • Representativeness
  • Semantic translucency
  • Semantic transparency
  • Translucency
  • Transparency


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