Not another white elephant!: children's understanding of unfamiliar phrasal idioms, or, paralysis by analysis?

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Not another white elephant!: children's understanding of unfamiliar phrasal idioms, or, paralysis by analysis?

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Title: Not another white elephant!: children's understanding of unfamiliar phrasal idioms, or, paralysis by analysis?
Author: Johnson, Glenn Albert
Abstract: This research had three specific aims related to children's comprehension of idioms: (1) to reexamine the impact of analyzability on children's comprehension of unfamiliar idioms; (2) to explore the patterns of developmental progression associated with verb phrase, noun phrase, adjective phrase, and syntactically anomalous idioms; and, (3) to identify any meaningful interactions between analyzability and form.Thirty-six typically developing children, 12 each in grades two, five and eight, participated in the experimental tasks. Idioms were presented to students in short stories constructed to support a figurative interpretation of the idiom. Comprehension was assessed through the use of two response tasks: (1) an item-selection task, and (2) an item-explanation task (i.e., having students explain what they thought each idiom meant in their own words).The outcomes indicated that analyzability does impact children's comprehension of idioms. However, analyzability interacts with response type and with idiom form. Students were more successful in explaining the figurative meanings of analyzable idioms in general, and were more successful in explaining verb phrase idioms than noun or adjective phrase idioms. Conversely, students were generally more successful in selecting the figurative paraphrase for unanalyzable than analyzable idioms, though this effect was not significant for verb phrase idioms. The results indicate that idiom comprehension processes in children are best considered from within a discourse processes framework.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 1998
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/8195

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