On the repetition of words with the potential for metaphoric extension in conversations between native and non-native speakers of English
Although quite a lot is known about the way that non-native speakers of English may interpret and produce metaphors in their second language, we know little about metaphor use in face-to-face conversation between primary and secondary speakers of English. In this article we explore the use of metaphors in two types of conversational data: one elicited in a semi-structured interview format, the other consisting of naturally occurring conversations involving one non-native speaker in dialogue with various native speakers. We found that although native speakers’ use of metaphor was occasionally problematic for the interaction, metaphor also afforded opportunities for topic development in these conversations. The repetition of a word with the potential for metaphoric extension was a particularly valuable strategy used by non-native speakers in these conversations in constructing their coherent contributions to the discourse. In contrast, the use of phraseological metaphors (often the focus of activities aimed at fostering second language learners’ mastery of conventional English metaphors) did not contribute to the joint construction of meanings in these circumstances. We discuss the role of high frequency vocabulary in these conversations and some implications for further research.
Published online: 05 January 2012
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Littlemore, Jeannette, Tina Krennmayr, James Turner & Sarah Turner
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