Title

The empirical study of figurative language in literature

Abstract

This article addresses the study of figurative language in literary texts. The psychological research on eight forms of figurative language is reviewed. The majority of this research has utilized short artificial texts which may not reflect the psychological processes involved in comprehending figurative language in longer, more literary texts. Other limitations of figurative language research include: (1) a bias towards metaphor research at the expense of other common forms of figurative language; (2) insufficient examination of how authorial intent, genre, and reader knowledge can affect figurative language comprehension; (3) a bias towards research on comprehension at the expense of production; and (4) insufficient understanding of how discourse goals can be fulfilled by figurative language. It is suggested that attention to these four issues could greatly improve our understanding of figurative language in ecologically valid contexts. © 1993.

Publication Title

Poetics

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