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ERIC Number: ED207040
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Aug
Pages: 16
Abstractor: N/A
Interpreting Idioms.
Kemper, Susan; Estill, Robert
A study investigated the immediate comprehension processes involved in the interpretation of English idiomatic expressions. Idioms such as "bury the hatchet" were presented to 48 college students in sentential contexts that either biased the subject toward a literal or a figurative interpretation or left the interpretation ambiguous. In control sentences, the final words of the idiom were used in nonidiomatic expressions. Subjects monitored the sentences for specified targets. In all cases, the target words were the final words of the idiomatic phrases. The subjects were instructed to detect words that were identical to a cue word, that rhymed with a cue word, or that were members of semantic categories specified by cue words. Reaction times were recorded from the onset of the targets to the subjects' responses. Subjects detected identity, rhyme, and category matches more rapidly in all three idiomatic contexts than in the nonidiomatic control contexts. However, for literal and ambiguous idioms, category decisions were slower than rhyme decisions, while category matches were made as rapidly as rhyme matches for the control sentences. The results suggest that idioms are automatically processed as discrete lexical entries. (Author/FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (89th, Los Angeles, CA, August 1981).