Article published in:EUROSLA Yearbook: Volume 2 (2002)
Edited by Susan H. Foster-Cohen, Tanja Ruthenberg and Marie Louise Poschen
[EUROSLA Yearbook 2] 2002
► pp. 155–185
Context and idiom understanding in second languages
This article describes the results of a study conducted with fifty-three adult third-year learners of Spanish, French, and German in order to investigate (a) the degree to which idiom type affects the speed and ease of idiom comprehension and interpretation, (b) the effect that context exerts on idiom understanding, (c) the strategies second language learners employ in computing the idiomatic meaning of multiword phrasal units during contextualized and acontextualized reading of texts containing such idioms, and (d) the cognitive processes that are likely to constrain the construction of the right idiomatic mappings between target and domain idioms. Findings indicate that (a) there were significant main effects for lexical and post-lexical level idioms in both the context and the non-context treatment; (b) translation, guessing, and the use of context are highly important in the construction of idiomatic meaning; and (c) the degree of opacity between target and domain idiom, knowledge of vocabulary, graphophonics and syntactic arrangement, and literal meaning of an idiom influence and affect transfer of idiomatic knowledge in significant ways.
Published online: 08 August 2002
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