Metaphor; A Survey on the Factors Related to Semantic Comprehension; their Effectiveness and Psychological Reliability

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Linguistics PH.D, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad & Faculty Member, Binaloud Institute of Higher Education

2 Associate Professor in Ferdowsi University of Mashad


The present study is a randomized pilot project that intends to test the Graded Salience Hypothesis (Giora, 1997), to investigate the major factors contributing to understanding meaning. According to Graded Salience Hypothesis, more salient meanings–coded meanings foremost on our mind due to conventionality, frequency, familiarity, or prototypicality–are accessed faster than and reach sufficient levels of activation before less salient ones. Even rich and  supportive contexts which  are biased  in  favor of less salient meanings do  not  inhibit  activation  of  salient  meanings. This research addressed predictions derived from this model by examining the salience of metaphor in Persian language. The primary dependent measure was RTs, and the design of this experiment was a combination of 2 Contexts (figurative, literal), 2 Types of Statements (familiar vs. unfamiliar vs. less familiar) and RTs (long, short, equal). Two types of contexts (figurative inviting and literal inviting contexts) were prepared. The software used in this experiment was designed for self-paced reading experiments. Reading latencies could be recorded with millisecond accuracy via this software. Results did not  lend support to the Graded Salience Hypothesis entirely. This result shows that main hypothesis isn't approved. These results show that contrary to the Graded Salience Hypothesis, context and salience do not  run in parallel, but sometimes context obstructs access to salient information and a semi serial process is expected. Also the results indicated that the salient meaning in both familiar and less familiar figurative expressions is mostly figurative meaning. Also salient meaning in unfamiliar metaphors is first figurative meaning, but after the passage of time, literal meaning is activated.


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  • Receive Date: 09 August 2014
  • Revise Date: 07 September 2014
  • Accept Date: 25 October 2014
  • First Publish Date: 20 February 2015