Publication details [#13674]

Read, Catherine and Agnes Szokolszky. 2016. A developmental ecological study of novel metaphoric language use . Language Sciences 53 : 86–98. 13 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


This paper presents an experiment developed through the perspective of the ecological direct realist approach to perceiving-acting-knowing, aimed at developing a critical understanding of children’s and adults’ capability of recognizing metaphoric resemblances across ordinary kinds of objects and events and to respond to discourse contexts that supported metaphor use. Five groups of participants divided by age were asked to identify, describe and compare pictures illustrating metaphors earlier produced by other children, depicting objects and events. Half of the participants were then requested to isolate pictures that were “like” the given standards; the other half to chose those that were “of the same kind”. All groups described the objects and events predominantly in terms of functions, physical properties, and dynamic properties; the “like” condition was also shown to present more frequent metaphoric matches with respect to the “kind” condition, and to be increasing with age. The study also points out that the ability to correctly identify figurative language begins at early ages and continues to developing in facility and frequency at least to adulthood.