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Understanding Figurative LanguageFrom Metaphor to Idioms$
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Sam Glucksberg

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195111095

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195111095.001.0001

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Beyond the Literal

Beyond the Literal

Chapter:
(p.16) 2 Beyond the Literal
Source:
Understanding Figurative Language
Author(s):

Sam Glucksberg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195111095.003.0002

This chapter examines the assumption that literal meanings are functionally primary: are they, as opposed to figurative meanings, processed automatically, and are they processed more quickly? Experimental evidence is adduced to show that, like literally intended expressions, metaphors and idioms are processed automatically, i.e., in an obligatory fashion. Furthermore, metaphors are processed in parallel with literal language when both kinds of meanings are available. Even the time-course of interpretation is the same for literal and metaphorical expressions. The primacy of the literal can be clearly rejected.

Keywords:   automatic processing, functional primacy, obligatory processing, parallel processing, primacy, literal assumption, time-course

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