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Comprehension of communicative intentions: The case of figurative language

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Issue Date
2009
Publisher
Institute for Cognitive Science, Seoul National University
Citation
Journal of Cognitive Science, Vol.10 No.2, pp. 245-278
Keywords
cognitive pragmaticsspeaker’s meanningdevelopmentcommunication and inferences
Abstract
This study is concerned with childrens comprehension of the communicative
meaning of conventional figurative communication acts. We assume that comprehending
the communicative meaning of both figurative and non-figurative
communication acts involves the same cognitive processes. We hypothesize
that the complexity of the mental representations involved accounts for the
increasing difficulty in comprehending the very same conventional figurative
expression, uttered with a sincere, deceitful or ironic intent. A pre-test on 20
children (7 to 7; 6 year-olds) ascertained the conventionality of the 6 figurative
expressions used as the experimental material, e.g. To be as mute as a fish. For
each figurative expression we created three different communicative contexts,
within which that expression acquired either a sincere, deceitful or ironic
communicative meaning. In the experiment, we presented 108 children aged
7 to 10; 6 years with brief audio-recorded stories, each involving a figurative
expression in a specific communicative context. The childrens performance
reflects the predicted trend in difficulty for comprehending the use of the
very same figurative expression, from the easiest to the most difficult: sincere,
deceitful, ironic. Our results are in favor of a unifying framework for explaining
the comprehension of figurative and non-figurative communication acts.
ISSN
1598-2327
Language
English
URI
https://hdl.handle.net/10371/70772
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College of Humanities (인문대학)Institute for Cognitive Science (인지과학연구소)Journal of Cognitive Science (인지과학작업)Journal of Cognitive Science (인지과학작업) vol.10 (2009)
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