An Experimental Examination of Emergent Features in Metaphor Interpretation Using Semantic Priming Effects

Abstract

In comprehension of the metaphor "TOPIC is VEHICLE" emergent features in the interpretation of metaphors are characteristic neither of the topic nor the vehicle. An experiment examines the hypothesis that new features emerge as metaphoric interpretations through association with non-emergent features connected with the topic, vehicle, or both. In the experiment, participants were presented with a non-emergent feature as a prime, a metaphor, and an emergent feature, sequentially. Participants were then asked to respond as to whether the emergent feature is an appropriate interpretation of the metaphor. The results showed that primed non-emergent features derived from the vehicle facilitate the recognition of emergent features. The results support an account in which new features emerge through two processes -- non-emergent features are recognized as interpretations of the metaphor and then these non-emergent features facilitate the recognition of emergent features.


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