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Assessing the Meaning of Metaphors in Real-Time: A Cross-Modal Investigation

Title:

Assessing the Meaning of Metaphors in Real-Time: A Cross-Modal Investigation

Patalas, Iola (2018) Assessing the Meaning of Metaphors in Real-Time: A Cross-Modal Investigation. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Natural language is replete with figurative expressions such as "my lawyer is a shark," and listeners are expected to intuitively understand the intended, rather than the literal meaning of such expressions. But what are the cognitive resources involved in attaining meaning for such sentences? According to proponents of the pragmatic model of metaphor comprehension, metaphors are first interpreted literally, and then, upon realizing they cannot be true, listeners search for implicatures that could convey the speaker’s intended meaning (Searle, 1979; Grice, 1989). In contrast, direct-access models of metaphor processing have posited that metaphors can be understood directly, circumventing higher-order cognitive processes (e.g. Glucksberg & Keysar, 1990). The present thesis investigated these theories using a cross-modal lexical decision paradigm (Swinney, 1979) with a novel brief masked target presentation at two probe points, in order to assess the moment-by-moment on-line processes involved in metaphor comprehension. We predicted that, following the pragmatic model, literally related target words would yield greater priming effects at the vehicle (e.g., shark) recognition point (a), compared to figurative targets, in both metaphor and simile conditions. At the later probe point (b), 500 ms after the vehicle’s recognition point, we expected that figurative targets would yield greater priming effects during metaphor comprehension as literal meanings were discarded. Results obtained from a preliminary sample demonstrated priming of related target words across conditions, but no significant differences between conditions. We discuss how these results may best be interpreted as supporting the dual-processing account of metaphor interpretation put forth by Carston (2010), which suggests that metaphors are held in the mind as literally true even as fast ad-hoc concepts are simultaneously created to interpret intended speaker meaning.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Patalas, Iola
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Psychology
Date:July 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):de Almeida, Roberto and Patalas, Iola
ID Code:984327
Deposited By: IOLA KAY PATALAS
Deposited On:16 Nov 2018 15:28
Last Modified:16 Nov 2018 15:28

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