Publication details [#19047]

Horvat, Ana Werkmann, Marianna Bolognesi and Katrin Kohl. 2021. The status of conventional metaphorical meaning in the L2 lexicon. Intercultural Pragmatics 18 (4) : 447–467.
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Article in journal
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This paper investigates how L2 speakers of English process conventional metaphorical expressions. While much of the literature on L2 processing of figurative expressions focuses on idioms only, the aim of this paper is to investigate how L2 speakers process conventional metaphorical expressions. The results of a cross-modal semantic priming task show that conventional metaphors have a special status in comparison to literal language in the L2 lexicon. The differences in reaction times show that L2 speakers are aware of the connections between literal primes and targets, resulting in slower reaction times, while this effect is not found in the metaphorical condition. This demonstrates that even when metaphorical language is very conventional, it can cause difficulties for L2 speakers. Furthermore, these results show that conventional metaphorical expressions can pose a semantic and pragmatic challenge for language learners, thus creating a need for explicit teaching of metaphorical meanings of polysemous words.