Comprehending Figurative Referential Descriptions

  • Gibbs R
  • 22

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 64

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

A common way of referring to people is with figurative language. People can be referred to metaphorically, as in calling a terrible boxer "a creampuff," or metonymically, as in calling a naval admiral "the brass." The present studies investigated the anaphoric inferences that occur during comprehension of figurative referential descriptions. Subjects read short narratives, each ending in either a literal or figurative description of another person. Immediately after the last line of each text, the anaphoric antecedent for the description of another person. Immediately after the last line of each text, the anaphoric antecedent for the description was presented in a probe recognition task. The results of three experiments indicated that metaphoric and metonymic referential descriptions reinstate their antecedents in the course of comprehension. Subjects were faster at reinstating the antecedents for literal referential descriptions than at reinstating metaphoric and metonymic descriptions. Moreover, people understand metaphoric referential descriptions more easily than they do metonymic ones. The implications of these findings for theories of anaphora resolution and figurative language comprehension are discussed.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Authors

  • Raymond W. Gibbs

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free