Interpreting Figurative Meaning

Interpreting Figurative Meaning

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Interpreting Figurative Meaning critically evaluates the recent empirical work from psycholinguistics and neuroscience examining the successes and difficulties associated with interpreting figurative language. There is now a huge, often contradictory literature on how people understand figures of speech. Gibbs and Colston argue that there may not be a single theory or model that adequately explains both the processes and products of figurative meaning experience. Experimental research may ultimately be unable to simply adjudicate between current models in psychology, linguistics and philosophy of how figurative meaning is interpreted. Alternatively, the authors advance a broad theoretical framework, motivated by ideas from 'dynamical systems theory', that describes the multiple, interacting influences which shape people's experiences of figurative meaning in discourse. This book details past research and theory, offers a critical assessment of this work and sets the stage for a new vision of figurative experience in human life.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139369350
  • 9781139369350

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. Identifying figurative language; 3. Models of figurative language comprehension; 4. Interpreting specific figures of speech; 5. Indeterminacy of figurative experience; 6. Factors shaping figurative language understanding; 7. Broadening the scope of figurative language studies.
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Review quote

"...present a state-of-the-art view of what experiments have shown (or not shown) about how humans comprehend and process figurative language such as metaphor, metonymy, irony, sarcasm, proverbs, and idioms.... A valuable guide to the last 20-odd years of research on figurative language, this is a book for those who do not have the time to digest the primary literature in its entirety.... Recommended..."
--S.A. Dooley, University of Texas at Brownsville, Choice "...The new book Interpreting Figurative Meaning by Raymond Gibbs Jr. and Herbert Colston provides a useful look at the research on how we understand figurative language.... The writing style of the book is highly entertaining. The tone of the book is quite jovial, with many entertaining transcripts and examples to tie together concepts.... the book is an exhaustive review of the research on figurative language, including great detail describing experiments that have examined the different figures of speech that are considered figurative language.... It provides a one-stop reference of no less than 10 of the most popular viewpoints applied to figurative language. We predict that the book will appeal to both the experienced language researcher and the newcomer."
--Dr. Shelia Kennison, Oklahoma State University and Rachel Messer, PsyCRITIQUES
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About Jr. Raymond W. Gibbs

Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of several books including The Poetics of Mind: Figurative Thought, Language, and Understanding and Embodiment and Cognitive Science. He is also editor of the volume The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought and editor of the journal Metaphor and Symbol. Herbert L. Colston is Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. Dr Colston has published widely and edited several books including Figurative Language Comprehension: Social and Cultural Influences and Irony in Language and Thought: A Cognitive Science Reader.
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