Publication details [#496]

Chen, Yi-chen. 2012. EFL learners’ awareness of metonymy–metaphor continuum in figurative expressions. Language Awareness 21 (3) : 235–248. 14 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language


The authors of this article observe that the interrelationships between metaphor and metonymy are complex to such an extent that it is not an exaggeration to treat both as forming a continuum, rather than as two distinct phenomena. The study reported on in the article attempts to examine such a continuum, along with its impact on learning of figurative language. With this in mind, the study examined the responses provided by twenty-eight Taiwanese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners to 40 statements containing a variety of metonymic and metaphoric expressions. The participants were asked to rate the expressions, based on their confidence that the language in it was used figuratively or literally. The Authors found that while the learners were able to distinguish between figurative and literal senses, they were showed more confidence in assessing metaphorical than metonymic expressions. As far as topics are concerned, it was found that the learners recognize expressions related to anger with more relative ease than those related to other topics. The overarching implication of the study is that integrating conceptual metonymy and metaphor into EFL curricula may raise the awareness of universal abstract concepts involved in figurative language, which will in turn improve comprehension.