Publication details [#12668]

Motsiou, Eleni. 2007. Non-literal language and thought in children (Όψεις της μη κυριολεξίας στη γλώσσα και στη σκέψη του παιδιού). Studies in Greek Linguistics 27 : 300–308. 9 pp. URL
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Manolis Triandaphyllidis Foundation


This paper studies the cognitive strategies of children between the ages 3 and 6 years old. Phenomena such as synesthesia, pretend play, overextensions, metaphor and simile are central in infants’ talk. The paper supports that children are capable of using non-literal speech extensively and effectively since their speech is not fully developed. The previous assumption is examined empirically by means of a test. A number of 60 children participated in the experiment where they were asked to interpret a number of metaphors and similes they heard. The metaphors and similes were part of short narratives. The findings show that similes are more challenging to grasp at the ages of 3 and 4, while at the age of 6 the understanding of both similes and metaphors is more acute. Overall, the study proposes that the use of non-literal language is a built-in capacity which appears in early childhood and it is fully mastered during adulthood.