Comprehension & interpretation of proverbs in L2byCieslicka, Anna.(2002) Rebecca Chiu
General questionWhat is the comprehension & interpretation of proverbs by L2 learners?
*Figurative language poses problems even for advanced L2 learners*metaphorical in nature (e.g., the fish rots from the head first).
Review *Traditional approaches *The Extended Conceptual Base Theory (ECBT) *The Conceptual Metaphor Hypothesis.
Traditional approachesMultistage Model (Temple and Honeck, 1999) 1. Computation of the literal meaning of the utterance
2. Determine if this literal rendering is appropriate. Contextual constraints: *immediate situation *relevant background knowledge
* Numerous recent reaction-time studies(Kemper 1987, Gibbs 1986, Glass 1983)have repeatedly shown that figurative utterances need not take longer time to process.
*Honeck (1999): the expression’s figurative meaning is understood faster than its literal meaning.Direct Access Model: figurative meanings are automatically accessed from memory*Lima 1984, Estill & Kemper 1982:Lack of difference between literal and figurative processing timeParallel Model: both literal and figurative meanings are generated independently and simultaneously.
Recent experimental literature in proverbs: • Familiar proverbs can take less time to comprehend than their literal paraphrases • The process of novel proverbs, when presented in context, need not require additional process time
Purpose of Current Work*Which of the opposing theories (EBCT vs. CMH) offers a better explanation for L2 proverb comprehension?*By replicating Gibbs’ proverb study: How do bilingualisms perform on a mental imagery task?
Two contrasting accounts: * Extended Conceptual Base Theory (EBCT): -emerging from multistage model -a problem-solving process * Conceptual Metaphor Hypothesis (CMH): Proverbs are based on image schemas or built-inmetaphors which can be automatically accessed.
Extended Conceptual Base Theory(Honeck, Riechmann and Hoffman, 1975) • Problem recognition phase • Literal transformation phase • Figurative phase • Instantiation phase A peacock should frequently look at its legs.
Conceptual Metaphor Hypothesis (CMH): • Originates from Lakoff and Turner’s Great Chain Metaphor Theory (1989): • Gibbs, Johnson & Colson (1996) conceptual mapping one specific-level schema from the source domain onto a generic-schema from the target domain. One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel Bad people
Gibbs’ study (1997)*Subjects: 24 undergraduates*Material & Procedure: -participants were presented a questionnaire asking them to write down mental images (16 proverbs from Penguin Dictionary of Proverbs) -participants answer two yes-no questions two open-ended questions
A rolling stone gathers no moss. • Too many cooks spoil the broth. • Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. • The early bird catches the worm. • One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. • Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. • Don’t put all your eggs in one baskets. • Let sleeping dogs lie. • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. • Look before you leap.
A rolling stone gathers no moss • Yes-no question • Intentionality Does the stone roll out of its own will or because somebody else made it do so? • Stopability of the action Once the stone starts rolling, is it easy to stop it? • Open-ended question • Causation of the action • What caused the stone to start rolling? • Manner • How does the stone roll? Quickly or slowly?...
*RationalIntentionality, Stopability, Causation, manner -- central characteristics of one’s knowledge of objects and events in the real world*Results Mental images were consistent and detailedA rolling stone gathers no moss:One round or smooth stone, rolling down a grassy hillside and bouncing around on a bumpy road down the slope.
Gibbs claimed:*People tacitly use pervasive conceptual metaphors in order to understand figurative meanings of proverbs
Current StudyMethod:*Subjects. 30 Polish students of English (3rd year students at Adam Mickiewicz University.)*Material & Procedure.A list of 10 proverbs( taking from Gibbs et al.’s 19970 mental imagery task.)
Subjects were presented with a questionnaire starting with a proverb-definition-matching task Describe their mental image for each proverb Answer four probe questions about causation, intentionality, manner, and stopability of the actions depicted in each proverb (two yes-no questions, and two open-ended questions)
Mental image: • 2 judges compared the participants’ description with the appropriate general schema for the proverb. • Stopability • Once the stone starts rolling, is it easy to stop it? stoppable:7 unstoppable:21 75% • Intentionality • Does the stone roll out of its own? intentional:11 unintentional:13 other:4 46% • Overall, the bilingual participants only yield 56% similar image schemas, compared to Gibbs’ 89% of consistence. It shows a significant less degree of consistence.
Discussion • Generally, L2 learners’ performance not as good as that of native speakers • Bilingual learners have not yet fully developed the essential links between conceptual metaphors and figurative meanings of the proverbs
Discussion • Gibbs’ assumption: • high degree of consistency should be attributed to the conceptual metaphors motivating figurative meanings of proverbs. • The author suggested more caution in drawing direct conclusions about the presence of conceptual metaphors • The mental imagery task: rely more on post-access analytical mechanisms than on immediate on-line processes • Many of the responses provided by the L2 participants indeed indicate a possibility that L2 learners’ proverb comprehension within the framework of the ECBT (problem-solving task).
Time is money • Mary was worried about her upcoming linguistic exam. • The final was in two weeks, and she was not ready for it. • She had wasted countless hours that should have been spent studying. • With so little time left, she would have to get started right away. • She set up a strict schedule for herself and budgeted her time carefully. • Mary spent almost every spare minute studying. • When she took the test, she could tell the time had been well spent. conclusive sentence: • Her investment had paid off. (Schema-matching version) • Her hours spending on the work is worthwhile. (Neutral version) • Her investment had not paid off. (Schema-matching version) • Her hours spending on the work is not worthwhile. (Neutral version)
Discussion • overall results: different version of yes/no question do not yield significant different process time=> confirm with the results of previous experimental studies: • with appropriate context, metaphorical statement do not necessarily take longer process time, • sometimes even shorter, especially with conventional metaphors (high frequency or high familiarity) • English L1 speakers: whether the question is phrased in the neutral or schema-matching version doesn’t make a big difference for the outcome • L2 learners: the results are quite different • owing to different /unfamiliar with the English metaphor schemas, L2 learners process literal sentences faster than the metaphorical ones • Application on L2 pedagogy: the need to emphasize the extra training in metaphor recognition for L2 students.