Exploring the literal bias in children's metaphor comprehension development

PhD fellow Mary Beth Neff will present an overview of the proposed research for her article-based dissertation.

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About the project

Understanding figurative language often requires the ability to infer "what is meant" above and beyond "what is said." Early in development, children are adept at forgoing what is said to determine what is intended. In the case of figurative language, however, children do not appear to use these sophisticated pragmatic abilities as they often interpret metaphors and other figurative utterances literally. This thesis explores this interconnection between young children's literalist bias in metaphor comprehension tasks and their developing pragmatic abilities. Specifically, we focus on why children favor literal interpretations in these scenarios: is it simply due to a figurative language deficit, or is there a broader communicative expectation that reinforces a preference for literal meaning in young children?

The event is part of Neff's midway evaluation and will consist of a 30 min. project presentation, and a few questions from the evaluator, Olivier Mascaro, before the floor is opened up for audience questions. 

Published Nov. 14, 2022 2:15 PM - Last modified Nov. 14, 2022 5:12 PM