Familiarity and Transparency in Idiom Explanation A Developmental Study of Children and Adolescents Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 1993
Familiarity and Transparency in Idiom Explanation
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marilyn A. Nippold
    University of Oregon Eugene
  • Mishelle Rudzinski
    University of Oregon Eugene
  • Contact author: Marilyn A. Nippold, PhD, Communication Disorders & Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Professional Issues & Training / Normal Language Processing / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 1993
Familiarity and Transparency in Idiom Explanation
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1993, Vol. 36, 728-737. doi:10.1044/jshr.3604.728
History: Received July 20, 1992 , Accepted January 29, 1993
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1993, Vol. 36, 728-737. doi:10.1044/jshr.3604.728
History: Received July 20, 1992; Accepted January 29, 1993

Idioms differ widely in their degree of difficulty for children and adolescents. Two factors that might account for these differences, familiarity and transparency, were examined. Children and adolescents ages 11, 14, and 17 years (N = 150) were asked to explain in writing the meanings of 24 different idiomatic expressions, each presented in a brief story context. Results showed that performance on the task gradually improved as subject age increased and that high-familiarity idioms were generally easier to explain than moderate- or low-familiarity expressions. Easier idioms also tended to be more transparent. The results are consistent with the “language experience” view of figurative development and question the hypothesis that idioms are learned as giant lexical units.

Acknowledgments
The authors express their appreciation to the children, adolescents, and adults who participated as subjects in this study and to the public school personnel who granted permission to conduct the testing and assisted with the scheduling.
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