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

Open access


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.

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

  • ADEL K. 1997. A comprehensive dictionary of English idioms: English-Arabic. Beirut: Librairie du Liban.

  • ALTAKHAINEH A. and ZIBIN A. 2014. Perception of culturally loaded words by Arab EFL learners. International Journal of Linguistics vol. 6 no. 3 pp.1-22.

  • ANSAH G. 2010. The cultural basis of conceptual metaphors: The case of emotions in Akan and English. Paper presented at the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2010. Lancaster England July 2010.

  • BAHUMAID S. 2006. Collocation in English-Arabic translation. Babel vol. 52 no. 2 pp. 133-152.

  • BOERS F. 2000. Metaphor awareness and vocabulary retention. Applied Linguistics vol. 21 no. 4 pp. 553-57.

  • BOERS F. 2003. Applied linguistics perspectives on cross cultural variation in conceptual metaphor. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity vol. 18 no. 4 pp. 231-238.

  • CAMERON L. and DEIGNAN A. 2006. The emergence of metaphor in discourse. Applied Linguistics vol. 27 no. 4 pp. 671-690.

  • CHARTERIS-BLACK J. 2001. A comparative study of metaphor in Spanish and English financial reporting. English for Specific Purposes vol. 20 no. 3 pp. 249-266

  • CHARTERIS-BLACK J. 2002. Second language figurative proficiency: A comparative study of Malay and English. Applied Linguistics vol. 23 no. 1 pp. 104-133.

  • CHOW M. V. 2010. A comparative study of the metaphor used in the economic news articles in Britain and Hong Kong. Unpublished PhD thesis University of Birmingham UK.

  • Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). [Accessed 23rd May 2013]. Available at: http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/.

  • DEIGNAN A. 2003. Metaphorical expressions and culture: An indirect link. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity vol. 18 no. 4 pp. 255-271.

  • DEIGNAN A. 2005. Metaphor and corpus linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • DEIGNAN A. GABYRS D. and SOLSKA A. 1997. Teaching English metaphors using crosslinguistic awareness raising activities. ELT Journal vol. 51 no. 4 pp. 352-360.

  • ECKMAN F. 1985. The markedness differential hypothesis: Theory and applications. In: B. Wheatley A. Hastings F. R. Eckman L. Bell G. Krukar and R. Rutkovski eds. Current approaches to second language acquisition. Bloomington Indiana: Indiana University Linguistic Club pp.3-21.

  • EMANATIAN M. 1995. Metaphor and the expression of emotion: The value of cross-cultural perspectives. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity vol. 10 no. 3 pp. 163-182.

  • FAREH S. and BIN MOUSSA M. 2007. Practicality and usefulness of English-Arabic dictionaries in translating English metaphors. Babel vol. 53 no. 1 pp. 32-47.

  • GIBBS R. 1994. Speaking and thinking with metonymy. In: K. Panther and G. Radden eds. Metonymy in language and thought. Philadelphia: John Benjamins pp. 61-76.

  • HAMDAN J. 1994. Language transfer and the acquisition of the English dative alternation by native speakers of Arabic. Unpublished PhD thesis University of Reading UK.

  • KÖVECSES Z. 2010. Metaphor and culture. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae Philologica vol. 2 no. 2 pp. 197-220.

  • KÖVECSES Z. and SZABÓ P. 1996. Idioms: A view from cognitive semantics. Applied Linguistics vol. 17 no. 3 pp. 326-55.

  • KÖVECSES Z. 2002. Metaphor: A practical introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • KÖVECSES Z. 2005. Metaphor in culture: Universality and variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • LAKOFF G. and JOHNSON M. 2003. Metaphors we live by. (2nd ed). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • LAKOFF G. 1993. The contemporary theory of metaphor. In A. Ortony ed. Metaphor and thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp. 202-251.

  • LITTLEMORE J. and LOW G. 2006. Metaphorical competence second language learning and communicative language ability. Applied Linguistics vol. 27 no. 2 pp. 286-94.

  • PAPAFRAGOU A. 1996. On metonymy. Lingua vol. 99 no. 4 pp. 169-195.

  • RADIĆ-BOJANIĆ B. 2013. Internalization and production of metaphorical expressions with EFL students. Romanian Journal of English Studies vol. 10 no. 1 pp. 135-144.

  • SAYGIN A. 2001. Processing figurative language in a multi-lingual task: Translation transfer and metaphor. Paper presented at corpus-based & processing approaches to figurative language workshop corpus linguistics 2001. Lancaster England 2001.

  • SHEHATA A. 2008. L1 influence on the reception and production of collocations by advanced ESL/ EFL Arabic learners of English. MA thesis Ohio University USA.

  • SHOKOUHI H. and ISAZADEH M. 2009. The effect of teaching conceptual and image metaphors to EFL Learners. The Open Applied Linguistics Journal vol. 2 pp. 22-31.

  • SPEARS R. 2007. McGraw-Hill's American idioms dictionary 4th ed. New York: The McGraw- Hill Companies Inc.

  • YU N. 1995. Metaphorical expressions of anger and happiness in English and Chinese. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity vol. 10 no. 2 pp. 59-92.

  • YU N. 2015. Metaphorical character of moral cognition: A comparative and decompositional analysis. Metaphor and Symbol vol. 30 no. 3 pp. 163-183.

  • ZIBIN A. and ALTAKHAINEH A. 2016. Acquiring the English causative alternation: Evidence from the University of Jordan. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature vol. 5 no. 3 pp. 7-15.

  • ZIBIN A. and HAMDAN J. 2014. The acquisition of metaphorical expressions by Jordanian EFL learners: A cognitive approach. Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Publishing.

  • ZIBIN A. 2016. The comprehension of metaphorical expressions by Jordanian EFL learners. SAGE Open vol. 6 no. 2 pp. 1-15.

  • The origin of the metaphorical expression blue blood Available at: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/69200.html

  • The origin of the metaphorical expression Achilles’ heel Available at: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/69200.html

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.25

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.144
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.447

Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 370 185 10
PDF Downloads 228 116 4