On the production of metaphors and metonymies by Jordanian EFL learners: acquisition and implications

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Abstract

This study explores the ability of Jordanian learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) to produce English metaphorical and metonymical expressions, using a completion task. It also examines whether the use of conceptual and linguistic knowledge of the participants’ first language, i.e. Jordanian Arabic (JA) would facilitate the production task. The study adopts a contrastive model to compare and contrast figurative devices in English and JA, consisting of six types that vary in relation to the conceptual bases and linguistic expressions involved. The results reveal that even though the participants’ scores were poor, the participants exhibited a general capacity to produce metaphorical/metonymical expressions that are similar in meaning to the ones required on the test, utilizing their L1 conceptual and linguistic knowledge. It was suggested that three important factors need to be satisfied to enable EFL learners to produce English figurative devices correctly, i.e. knowledge of the conceptual bases involved, a good command of English collocational knowledge and familiarity with the concept of partial synonymy, and continuous exposure to the figurative expressions in real-life English. Based on these results, the study proposes some pedagogical implications that may assist EFL learners to familiarize themselves with metaphorical/metonymical expressions in English and it concludes with recommendations for further research.

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