Non-literal language is also known as figurative language, or tropical language, and includes those devices (or tropes) whose meaning cannot be obtained by direct composition of their constituent words: idiom, metaphor, metonymy, simile, hyperbole, irony, sarcasm, indirect speech acts and implicature, among others. Non-literal language has historically been given scant attention as a research topic in the field of natural language processing (NLP), yet paradoxically, the ubiquity of nonliteral language is also cited as a major stumbling block to truly effective NLP. However, in recent years a community of researchers studying these phenomena has been growing and organizing. This growth led to a successful workshop on computational approaches to non-literal language held at the 12th IJCAI in Sydney, Australia in August 1992 (Fass et a f . 1991). This special issue grew out of that workshop and contains articles by some of the workshop participants plus others.