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ERIC Number: ED340041
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Aug-17
Reference Count: 0
Activation of Conventional Meaning during the Processing of Figurative Language.
Turner, Nigel; Katz, Albert
Two studies investigated the processing of familiar and unfamiliar figurative language. Subjects read paragraphs containing figurative sentences (proverbs in study 1 and metaphors in study 2) or literal controls; later subjects were given a cued recall test designed to test their memory for contextually inappropriate meanings (a literal cue for a target used figuratively and a figurative cue for a target used literally). Metaphor targets were created by writing a literal paraphrase of a proverb that maintained the underlying metaphor but used a different surface structure. Processing time for unfamiliar proverbs, and memory errors for both familiar and unfamiliar proverbs indicated that the conventional meaning of the target was activated, even when it was contextually inappropriate. Results of cued recall suggested that literal meaning was processed automatically for both familiar and unfamiliar proverbs, while figurative meaning was processed automatically only when the proverb was familiar. The similarity of results from the proverb and metaphor data suggest that it is the conceptual model created by the proverb that is important rather than the surface structure sentence of the proverb. Results further indicated that differences between familiar and unfamiliar, figurative and literal target sentences were to some extent caused by an obligatory activation of conventional meaning, in addition to the degree of constraint on the sentence's meaning caused by the context. (Two tables of data and six figures of data are included.) (Author/SR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Meaning Conditions
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (99th, San Francisco, CA, August 16-20, 1991).