The role of semantic transparency and metaphorical elaboration through pictures for learning idioms in a second language

Ramonda, Kris (2016). The role of semantic transparency and metaphorical elaboration through pictures for learning idioms in a second language. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Idioms, as multi-word units that contain literal and figurative meanings, are inherently complex and thus unsurprisingly difficult to acquire for second language learners. Though experimental studies on idioms have been carried out with pedagogically minded foci, none have examined the differential effects picture type has on correct interpretation of meaning or meaning recall. Because idioms have both literal and figurative senses, they can be pictorially expressed via either or both of their dual meanings. However, no one has yet tested whether figurative elements in pictures will aid or confuse second language learners when presented alongside idioms.

Thus, the primary aim of this thesis is to experimentally test how different kinds of pictures affect the way in which second language learners interpret and recall the figurative meaning of metaphorical idioms. Furthermore, the role of semantic transparency and how it impacts the effectiveness of the picture type is examined. The overarching finding suggests that metaphorically imbued pictures overall facilitate the learning of idioms. However, highly contextualized pictures have the potential to mislead learners in specific and often unpredictable ways. In addition to the pedagogical implications uncovered, this thesis also addresses the nature of semantic transparency and teacher attitudes on idioms.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English


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