The Interplay of Syntactic and Lexical Salience and its Effect on Default Figurative Responses

Abstract

The aim of the paper is to determine how salient and non-salient figurative discourse nouns affect readers’ default response processing and oculo-graphic (eye-movement) reactions. Whereas the theories of the Graded Salience and the Defaultness Hypotheses, developed by R. Giora (Giora, 1999, 2003; Giora, Givoni, & Fein, 2015), have stimulated further research in the area of interpretive salience (Giora et al., 2015; Giora, Jaffe, Becker & Fein, 2018), the resonating influence of syntactic salience on default interpretations has been largely neglected. In this study we provide corpus-based evidence followed by eye-tracking experiment verification, supportive of the synchronized influence of syntactic and lexical salience. The results show that default figurative responses in lexically salient positions may require more cognitive effort (longer fixations) if they are syntactically less salient. Literal responses to figurative nouns may also result from either weak lexical or syntactic salience of nouns. Therefore, apart from exemplifying resonance with lexical salience (in terms of lexical frequency, familiarity, conventionality, and prototypicality), the default figurative interpretations are also syntactically dependent.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Barsalou, L. W. (2008). Grounded cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 617–645.

  • Bergen, B. K. (2012). Louder than words: The new science of how the mind makes meaning. New York: Basic Books.

  • Chafe, W. (1994). Discourse, consciousness and time: The flow and displacement of conscious experience in speaking and writing. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

  • Charteris-Black, J. (2012). Shattering the bell jar: Metaphor, gender and depression. Metaphor and symbol, 27(3), 199–216.

  • Coulson, S. (2008). Metaphor comprehension and the brain. In R. W. Gibbs (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought (pp. 177–194). New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Coulson, S., & van Petten, C. (2002). Conceptual integration and metaphor: an event-related potential study. Memory and Cognition, 30(6), 958–968.

  • Coulson, S., & Lai, V. T. (2015). The metaphorical brain. Lausanne: Frontiers Media.

  • Divjak, D. (2015). Exploring the grammar of perception. A case study using data from Russian. Functions of Language, 22(1), 44–68.

  • Faucett, J. M., Risco, E. F., & Kingstone, A. (2015). The handbook of attention. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Gentner, D., Bowdle, B. F., Wolff, P., & Boronat, C. (2001). Metaphor is like analogy. In D. Gentner, K. J. Holyoak & B. N. Kokinov (Eds.), The analogical mind: Perspectives from cognitive science (pp. 199–253). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Gibbs, R. W. (1992). Categorization and metaphor understanding. Psychological Review, 99, 572–577.

  • Gibbs, R. W., & Matlock, T. (2008). Metaphor, imagination, and simulation: Psycholinguistic evidence. In R. W. Gibbs (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought (pp. 161–176). New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Giora, R. (1999). On the priority of salient meanings: Studies of literal and figurative language. Journal of Pragmatics, 31(7), 919–929.

  • Giora, R. (2003). On our mind: Salience, context, and figurative language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Giora, R., & Fein, O. (1999). Irony: Context and salience. Metaphor and Symbol, 14(4), 241–257.

  • Giora, R., Givoni, S., & Fein, O. (2015). Defaultness reigns: The case of sarcasm. Metaphor and Symbol, 30(4), 290–313.

  • Giora, R., Jaffe, I., Becker, I., & Fein, O. (2018). Strongly mitigating a highly positive concept: The case of default sarcastic interpretations. Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 6(1), 19–47.

  • Givón, T. (1987). Beyond foreground and background. In R. S. Tomlin (Ed.), Coherence and grounding in discourse (pp. 175–168). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

  • Glucksberg, S., Gildea, P., & Bookin, H. B. (1982). On understanding non-literal speech: Can people ignore metaphors? Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1, 85–96.

  • Glucksberg, S., & Keysar, B. (1990). Understanding metaphorical comparisons: Beyond similarity. Psychological Review, 97(1), 3–18.

  • Gold, R., & Faust, M. (2010). Right hemisphere dysfunction and metaphor comprehension in young adults with Asperger syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(7), 800–811.

  • Golubkova, E. E. (2014). Ispolzovaniye lingvisticheskih korpusov pri reshenii semanticheskikh problem. In V. I. Zabotkina & E. E. Golubkova (Eds.), Metody kognitivnogo analiza semantiki slova: Komputerno-korpusnyi podkhod (pp. 34–75). Moscow: Yazyki Slavianskoi Kultury. (In Russ.).

  • Gries, S. T., & Stefanowitsch, A. (Eds.) (2006). Corpora in cognitive linguistics: Corpus-based approaches to syntax and lexis. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Hetmański, M. (2015). Metaphoric confinement of information. Studies in Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, 40(53), 161–178.

  • Iakimova, G., Passerioux, C., Denhière, G., Laurent, J.-P., Vistoli, D., Vilain, J., & Hardy-Baylé, M.-C. (2010). The influence of idiomatic salience during the comprehension of ambiguous idioms by patients with schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 177(1–2), 46–54.

  • Iriskhanova, O. (2014). Igry fokusa v yazyke: Semantika, sintaksis i pragmatika defokusirovaniya. Moscow: Yazyki Slavianskoi Kultury. (In Russ.).

  • Kauschke, C., Mueller, N., Kircher, T., & Nagels, A. (2018). Do patients with depression prefer literal or metaphorical expressions for internal states? Evidence from sentence completion and elicited production. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, Article 1326.

  • Kazmerski, V. A., Blasko, D. G., & Dessalegn, B. G. (2003). ERP and behavioral evidence of individual differences in metaphor comprehension. Memory and Cognition, 31(5), 673–689.

  • Kiose, M. (2018). Factors of co-referent indirect names interpretation in text: Cognitive analysis – statistics – experiment. Issues in Cognitive Linguistics (Voprosy kognitivnoy lingvistiki), 3, 16–26. (In Russ.).

  • Kintsch, W., & Bowles, A. (2002). Metaphor comprehension: What makes a metaphor difficult to understand? Metaphor and Symbol, 17(4), 249–262.

  • Kliegl, R., Nuthmann, A., & Engbert, R. (2006). Tracking the mind during reading. The influence of past, present, and future words on fixation duration. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135, 12–35.

  • MacKay, G., & Shaw, A. (2004). A comparative study of figurative language in children with autistic spectrum disorders. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 20, 13–32.

  • National corpus of the Russian language. Retrieved from http://www.ruscorpora.ru/

  • Norbury, C. F. (2005). The relationship between theory of mind and metaphor: Evidence from children with language impairment and autistic spectrum disorder. Developmental Psychology, 23(3), 383–399.

  • Pynte, J., Besson, M., Robichon, F.-H., & Poli, J. (1996). The time-course of metaphor comprehension: an event-related potential study. Brain and Language, 316, 293–316.

  • Rapp, A. M., Felsenheimer, A. K., Langohr, K., & Klupp, M. (2017). The comprehension of familiar and novel metaphoric meanings in schizophrenia: A pilot study. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, Article 2251.

  • Rayner, K. (1998). Eye movements in reading and information processing: 20 years of research. Psychological Bulletin, 124(3), 372–422.

  • Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (1989). The psychology of reading. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • Ritchie, D. (2013). Metaphor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Rundblad, G., & Annaz, D. (2010). The atypical development of metaphor and metonymy comprehension in children with autism. Autism, 14, 29–46.

  • Semino, E., & Short, M. (2004). Corpus stylistics: Speech, writing and thought presentation in a corpus of English writing. London: Routledge.

  • Schmid, H.-J. (2007). Entrenchment, salience, and basic levels. In D. Geeraerts & H. Cuyckens (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of cognitive linguistics (pp. 117–138). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Staub, A. (2015). Reading sentences: Syntactic parsing and semantic interpretation. In A. Pollatsek & R. Treiman (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of reading (pp. 202–216). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Steen, G., Dorst, A. G., Herrmann, J. B., Kaal, A. A., Krennmayr, T., & Pasma, T. (2010). A method for linguistic metaphor identification: From MIP to MIPVU. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a cognitive semantics. Vol. 1. Concept structuring systems. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press.

  • Tomlin, R. S. (1987). Linguistic reflections of cognitive events. In R. S. Tomlin (Ed.), Coherence and grounding in discourse (pp. 455–479). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Tognini-Bonelli, E. (2001). Corpus linguistics at work. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. In A. Tversky & D. Kahneman (Eds.), Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases (pp. 3–28). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Verhagen, A. (2007). Construal and perspectivization. In D. Geeraerts & H. Cuyckens (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of cognitive linguistics (pp. 48–81). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Vulchanova, M., Saldańa, D., Chahboun, S., & Vulchanov, V. (2015). Figurative language processing in atypical populations: the ASD perspective. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, Article 24.

  • Wårwik, B. (2004). What is foregrounded in narratives? Hypotheses for the cognitive basis of foregrounding. In T. Virtanen (Ed.), Approaches to cognition through text and discourse (pp. 99–122). Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Search