Children’s understanding of ambiguous idioms and conversational perspective-taking

Abstract : The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that conversational perspective-taking is a determinant of unfamiliar ambiguous idiom comprehension. We investigated two types of ambiguous idiom, decomposable and nondecomposable expressions, which differ in the degree to which the literal meanings of the individual words contribute to the overall idiomatic meaning. We designed an experiment to assess the relationship between the acquisition of figurative comprehension and conversational perspective-taking. Our sample of children aged 5–7 years performed three conversational perspective-taking tasks (language acts, shared/unshared information, and conversational maxims). They then listened to decomposable and nondecomposable idiomatic expressions presented in context before performing a multiple-choice task (figurative , literal, and contextual responses). Results indicated that decomposable idiom comprehension was predicted by conversational perspective-taking scores and language skills, whereas non-decomposable idiom comprehension was predicted solely by language skills. We discuss our findings with respect to verbal and pragmatic skills. Ó 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Introduction The aim of this study was to investigate the understanding of two kinds of unfamiliar idiomatic expressions, decomposable and nondecomposable, by children aged 5–7 years. More specifically, we 0022-0965/$-see front matter Ó
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https://hal.univ-rennes2.fr/hal-01712224
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Submitted on : Monday, February 19, 2018 - 11:46:41 AM
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Sandrine Le Sourn-Bissaoui, Stéphanie Caillies, Stephane Bernard, Michel Deleau, Lauriane Brulé. Children’s understanding of ambiguous idioms and conversational perspective-taking. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Elsevier, 2012, 112 (4), pp.437 - 451. ⟨10.1016/j.jecp.2012.02.003⟩. ⟨hal-01712224⟩

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