This study investigated whether verbs in figurative language activate different types of associations than do verbs in literal language. In a sentence-priming experiment, we compared sentences featuring verbs in idiomatic phrases with control sentences in which the same verbs were meant literally. Participants made lexical decisions about nouns that were associated with either the verb’s literal meaning, with the figurative meaning of the phrase, or were unassociated nouns. Verbs in sentence-final position were highly predictable in both types of sentences and hence the phrasal meaning was rendered as figurative or literal before the sentence-final word. Our results showed that in literal sentences, the activation of literal associations was much stronger than that of figurative associations, whereas in idiomatic sentences, associations with the literal meaning of the verb were activated to the same degree as were associations with the figurative meaning. This contrasts with previous psycholinguistic research suggesting that literal associations should not be activated as soon as the phrase has been recognized as idiom.We argue that the literal verb meaning is essential in both figurative and nonfigurative language and present a model of idiom recognition that integrates our findings.

Processing Verbs in German Idioms: Evidence Against the Configuration Hypothesis

RABANUS, Stefan;
2007-01-01

Abstract

This study investigated whether verbs in figurative language activate different types of associations than do verbs in literal language. In a sentence-priming experiment, we compared sentences featuring verbs in idiomatic phrases with control sentences in which the same verbs were meant literally. Participants made lexical decisions about nouns that were associated with either the verb’s literal meaning, with the figurative meaning of the phrase, or were unassociated nouns. Verbs in sentence-final position were highly predictable in both types of sentences and hence the phrasal meaning was rendered as figurative or literal before the sentence-final word. Our results showed that in literal sentences, the activation of literal associations was much stronger than that of figurative associations, whereas in idiomatic sentences, associations with the literal meaning of the verb were activated to the same degree as were associations with the figurative meaning. This contrasts with previous psycholinguistic research suggesting that literal associations should not be activated as soon as the phrase has been recognized as idiom.We argue that the literal verb meaning is essential in both figurative and nonfigurative language and present a model of idiom recognition that integrates our findings.
Idiomi; Modelli psicolinguistici; Tedesco
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/304259
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