Accession Number : ADA334682

Title :   Understanding Metaphorical Use of Verbs

Descriptive Note : Final rept.


Personal Author(s) : Torreano, Lisa A.

PDF Url : ADA334682

Report Date : JUN 1997

Pagination or Media Count : 131

Abstract : How do people understand language in which verbs are used metaphorically? For example, how do people understand utterances such as He bathed in her beauty or She punctured his ego in everyday conversation? The general cognitive processes and discourse strategies described by the interactive attributive model (Ulucksberg & Keysar, 1990; Glucksberg, McGlone, & Manfredi, 1997) are investigated as a possible base for a cogent model of metaphorical verb use. Specifically, the use of the dual reference strategy of using the name of a category instance to name the category itself is investigated for verbs. Experiment 1 investigated factors that influence judgments of metaphoricity. Ratings of metaphors (e.g., The car flew across the intersection) suggest that verbs are interpreted metaphorically when their selection restrictions are violated. For example, the verb to fly normally (literally) takes subjects that are capable of air travel, such as birds or airplanes. When this restriction is violated (e.g., cars or ideas flying), the verb is judged as being used metaphorically. Furthermore, the degree of metaphoricity is a function of the degree of violation. Experiment 2 used a priming paradigm to test whether verbs can be used to make dual reference to either a literal action referent or to a generalized action category referent which it typifies. Different uses of verbs in either metaphorical (e.g., The idea flew) or literal (e.g., The bird flew) contexts, resulted in differential accessibility of action properties. For example. properties relevant to understanding the metaphor, such as flying is fast, are more accessible after metaphors than literal statements. Conversely, properties that are irrelevant to understanding the metaphor, such as flying is air travel, are less accessible after metaphors than literal controls.


Subject Categories : Linguistics

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE