International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijll

Non-Literal Meaning Comprehension: A Small-Scale Analysis on Turkish Speakers
Pınar İbe Akcan, Elif Arica Akkök

Language processing is a hotly-debated topic in all its aspects. Figurative or non-literal language processing on the other hand, is an intriguing phenomenon that needs more investigation from cognitive, psychological and neurological perspectives with data from different languages. This study aims to contribute to reveal the nonliteral meaning comprehension with data from Turkish. From the cognitive perspective, language processing (both literal and non-literal) makes use of categories and schema. Non-literal meaning or specifically metaphors are based on the analogical reasoning of the categories and their correspondences. In this kind of processing, the primary aim is to find out the overall interpretation using the contextual information and implicatures. The comprehension of non-literal meaning is said to be influenced by other cognitive capacities involving the IQ level, the memory capacity, the ability of abstract thinking, and the ability to create mental images. There are individual differences in terms of all such cognitive abilities as well as there are some tendencies related to the age and gender variables. Based on this assumption, current study first, reviews the related literature elaborately and brings in the studies in other languages focusing on the conceptual base, the context, and the relationship with humor. Then the third section introduces the data collection tool of the study; a test aiming to investigate the comprehension of an organized set of figurative expressions (including the metaphoric, metonymic, and humorous ones) by the native speakers of Turkish. The written test includes an equal number of different types of figurative expressions to be interpreted by the speakers. The interpretations were evaluated with the designed six-point measuring scale and the numerical findings were presented in a comparative sort. The findings of the study have shown that among other variables that affect the comprehension of non-literal meaning, age is an indeed operative one.

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