ERIC Number: ED171393
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Dec
Reference Count: 0
Misunderstanding Metaphor: Cognitive Problem or Pragmatic Problem?
Winner, Ellen; And Others
Two tasks were used to choose between two rival accounts--cognitive vs. pragmatic--of children's failure to comprehend metaphors. A total of 120 children, in three age groups (6, 7, and 9 years) were given either an explication or a multiple choice task to assess comprehension of 15 novel comparisons expressed in five alternative forms varying in pragmatic difficulty: predicative metaphors; topicless metaphors; similes; quasi-analogies; and riddles. The form in which a comparison was expressed affected the ease with which it was comprehended: predictive metaphors and similes were the most difficult; topicless metaphors were intermediate; and analogies and riddles were the easiest. The order of difficulty remained constant across age. Results support the hypothesis that, at least for metaphors grounded in physical resemblance, the ability to perceive a resemblance between elements ordinarily classified apart (a cognitive skill) is not sufficient for metaphor comprehension and that additional pragmatic skills are necessary. These results are discussed in detail. (Author/SS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.; National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Portions of this paper were presented at the meeting of the New England Child Language Association (December 1978)