Can you reach for the planets or grasp at the stars? : Modified noun, verb, or preposition constituents in idiom processing

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2020
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SCHULTE IM WALDE, Sabine, ed., Eva SMOLKA, ed.. The role of constituents in multiword expressions : An interdisciplinary, cross-lingual perspective. Berlin: Language Science Press, 2020, pp. 179-204. Phraseology and multiword expressions. 4. ISBN 978-3-96110-185-6. Available under: doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3598566
Zusammenfassung

Idioms are a special case of multiword expressions in that their meaning cannot be compositionally constructed from the meaning of the single constituents. The present study examines whether the figurative meaning of an idiom is recognized if critical idiomatic constituents (e.g. noun, verb, preposition) are modified. In three paraphrase experiments, participants saw (a) the canonical idiomatic phrase (e.g., She reached for the stars), (b) the idiomatic phrase with a modified constituent (e.g., She reached for the planets), or (c) a matched literal control sentence (e.g., She reached for the sweets) and rated how strongly the sentence reflected the meaning of a paraphrase of the idiom (e.g., She has always aspired to unattainable goals). Canonical idiomatic phrases and control sentences received highest and lowest paraphrase ratings, respectively, with modified constituents in between. Further, idioms with modified verbs were rated higher in matching the figurative meaning than idioms with modified prepositions or nouns. These findings indicate that the figurative meaning was assembled in spite of the modifications and support the notion that idioms are not fully “semantically fixed”. Rather, modified constituents that activate meanings similar to those of the canonical constituents are good can- didates in contributing to the figurative meaning of an idiom. We discuss psycholin- guistic models on idiom comprehension.

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Fachgebiet (DDC)
400 Sprachwissenschaft, Linguistik
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Workshop at the Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS) 2017, 8. März 2017 - 10. März 2017, Saarbrücken
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Zitieren
ISO 690SMOLKA, Eva, Carsten EULITZ, 2020. Can you reach for the planets or grasp at the stars? : Modified noun, verb, or preposition constituents in idiom processing. Workshop at the Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS) 2017. Saarbrücken, 8. März 2017 - 10. März 2017. In: SCHULTE IM WALDE, Sabine, ed., Eva SMOLKA, ed.. The role of constituents in multiword expressions : An interdisciplinary, cross-lingual perspective. Berlin: Language Science Press, 2020, pp. 179-204. Phraseology and multiword expressions. 4. ISBN 978-3-96110-185-6. Available under: doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3598566
BibTex
@inproceedings{Smolka2020reach-49167,
  year={2020},
  doi={10.5281/zenodo.3598566},
  title={Can you reach for the planets or grasp at the stars? : Modified noun, verb, or preposition constituents in idiom processing},
  number={4},
  isbn={978-3-96110-185-6},
  publisher={Language Science Press},
  address={Berlin},
  series={Phraseology and multiword expressions},
  booktitle={The role of constituents in multiword expressions : An interdisciplinary, cross-lingual perspective},
  pages={179--204},
  editor={Schulte im Walde, Sabine and Smolka, Eva},
  author={Smolka, Eva and Eulitz, Carsten}
}
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