Chapter

Beyond the Literal

Sam Glucksberg

in Understanding Figurative Language

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780195111095
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872107 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195111095.003.0002

Series: Oxford Psychology Series

 Beyond the Literal

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This chapter examines the assumption that literal meanings are functionally primary: are they, as opposed to figurative meanings, processed automatically, and are they processed more quickly? Experimental evidence is adduced to show that, like literally intended expressions, metaphors and idioms are processed automatically, i.e., in an obligatory fashion. Furthermore, metaphors are processed in parallel with literal language when both kinds of meanings are available. Even the time-course of interpretation is the same for literal and metaphorical expressions. The primacy of the literal can be clearly rejected.

Keywords: automatic processing; functional primacy; obligatory processing; parallel processing; primacy; literal assumption; time-course

Chapter.  5727 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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