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  • R W Gibbs
  • 1990
A common way of referring to people is with figurative language. People can be referred to metaphorically, as in calling a terrible boxer "a creampuff," or metonymically, as in calling a naval admiral "the brass." The present studies investigated the anaphoric inferences that occur during comprehension of figurative referential descriptions. Subjects read(More)
A central claim in cognitive science is that speakers often say things which underdetermine what they imply by their use of utterances in context. For example, in uttering Jane has three children a speaker might only say that Jane has at least three children and may have more than three, but the speaker's utterance implicates that Jane has exactly three(More)
Six experiments examined why some idioms can be syntactically changed and still retain their figurative meanings (e.g., John laid down the law can be passivized as The law was laid down by John), while other idioms cannot be syntactically altered without losing their figurative meanings (e.g., John kicked the bucket cannot be passivized into The bucket was(More)
  • R W Gibbs
  • 1991
This study investigated the role of semantic analyzability in children's understanding of idioms. Kindergartners and first, third, and fourth graders listened to idiomatic expressions either alone or at the end of short story contexts. Their task was to explain verbally the intended meanings of these phrases and then to choose their correct idiomatic(More)
The debate on literal meaning in theories of natural language processing has focused on two main issues: (1) Are there conditions by which the literal meaning of a sentence can be appropriately identified?; and (2) Is there some evaluation of literal meaning during the interpretation of natural language utterances? My article, " Literal meaning and(More)
We demonstrate in two experiments that real and imagined body movements appropriate to metaphorical phrases facilitate people's immediate comprehension of these phrases. Participants first learned to make different body movements given specific cues. In two reading time studies, people were faster to understand a metaphorical phrase, such as push the(More)
In three experiments, we examined why some idioms can be lexically altered and still retain their figurative meanings (e.g., John buttoned his lips about Mary can be changed into John fastened his lips about Mary and still mean "John didn't say anything about Mary"), whereas other idioms cannot be lexically altered without losing their figurative meanings(More)