Gender and Developmental Aspects of Metaphor and Metonymy Comprehension Processes

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Introduction: The goal of the present study was, in line with theoretical findings, to confirm a shift in metaphor and metonymy comprehension on a sample of Slovak children and to track an effect of a gender as well.

Methods: Metaphor and metonymy comprehension were measured with an author constructed tool consisting of eight metaphors and eight metonymies. Respondents were given a multiple choice option to select a correct meaning of metaphor or metonymy. The sample consisted of 120 elementary school children from Košice area. For an age assessment, two age groups were created based on elementary school grades-fourth grade (9-10 years) and eighth grade (13-14 years).

Results: Results of our study indicate that both metaphor comprehension and metonymy comprehension shift significantly with age. Eight graders scored significantly better than fourth graders in tasks given. We found statistically significant differences between genders as well. Girls scored significantly higher than boys both in metaphor comprehension and metonymy comprehension.

Discussion: Metaphor and metonymy comprehension progress significantly in time, supposedly in line with the development of other cognitive processes. Gender differences can be explained in part by female advantage in verbal processes proclaimed by some research.

Limitations: We see limits of our research in capturing a relatively narrow age range.

Conclusion: Our study aims to contribute to knowledge about figurative language development since only few researchers have addressed the problem. Perspectives for future research are in exploring given topic on various developmental stages to gain a complex understanding of metaphor and metonymy development in Slovak population and to better explain gender differences.

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