Publication details [#11222]

Watteau, Nicole. 2001. Compréhension des énoncés métaphoriques chez l'enfant (Children's comprehension of metaphoric utterances). Lacus Forum 129 (Feb) : 64–78. 15 pp.


Early awareness of the mechanisms of metaphor is evidenced in summary descriptions of a series of recent experimental studies of French children in the 7-10 age range by Watteau and collaborators. In one study of 32 metaphors, (N = approximately 40), appropriate verbal justifications were produced for 60% of metaphors at age 8 and 75% at age 10; a second study (N = 100 each, ages 8 and 10) found that a task matching verbs with the vehicle of metaphors facilitated Ss' comprehension of novel metaphors. Figurative relations embodied in utterances of the type 'la lune éclabousse le jardin' (the moon is splashing the garden) were used as stimuli in a group of experiments that varied concrete vs. abstract subject-verb and object-verb relations. Results show that a literal prime facilitated the comprehension of abstract subject-verb utterances and concrete verb-object utterances and had no effect on comprehension of the other two types. A qualitative analysis of Ss' verbalizations regarding metaphoric stimuli reveals varying roles of imagery in the processing of metaphors at ages 8 and 10. (J. Hitchcock in LLBA 2001, vol. 35, n. 3)