A study involving 160 Swedish children aged 7 to 14 years has been conducted to ascertain qualitative differences in their understanding of figurative expressions. Twelve proverbs and idioms involving semantic clashes Q e.g. 'Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind' Q where administered in an open-ended questionnaire format. Subjects were asked to write as many congruent and different meanings to each expression as they could imagine. The obtained constructions were categorised according to their literal, lexical figurative, and original figurative content, and an index was assigned to each subject indicating his/her ability to offer examples of one or more of those categories. Finally, a correlational analysis relating age, gender, and the ability to produce alternative meanings was performed. A pattern emerged indicating that younger children tend to understand figurative expressions literally, while older ones are able to produce several alternative irterpretations. The transition between those stages occurs around 9-l0 years of age. Girls, in their turn, are able to perform at the last level earlier than boys.
The results are similar to those obtained in a parallel study using multiple-choice items for the same expressions. Nevertheless, the quality of the data is better in that it shows interesting differences in the meaning-making strategies used by each subject.
|Status||Publicerad - 1994|
- Psykologi (501)