Our topic is an under-theorized type of closed simile in which the ground represents a non-salient feature of the source term (e.g., as quiet as a weight, as opposed to a standard simile, e.g., as heavy as a weight). The non-standard simile introduces a semantic difficulty, a result of the unexpected mismatch between ground and source. Since they are highly prevalent in poetic texts there is special interest in investigating the ways subjects attempt to comprehend such similes. To that end, we have asked 62 subjects to interpret pairs of similes distinguished only by the salience of the ground. We identify 5 response types and find that these are unevenly distributed across the two simile types (standard and non-standard). The structural difference between the two kinds of similes, therefore, evokes different interpretational strategies. Additionally, we find that the non-standard simile entails a hit-or-miss potentiality, creating conditions for either an insightful interpretation or a rejection of any possibility of its coherent comprehension.
Chestnut, Eleanor & Ellen Markham. 2016. Are horses like zebras, or vice versa? Children’s sensitivity to the asymmetries of directional comparisons. Child Dev 87. 568–582.2672798710.1111/cdev.12476)| false
Journal of Literary Semantics has pioneered and encouraged research into the relations between linguistics and literature. Widely read by theoretical and applied linguists, narratologists, poeticians, philosophers and psycholinguists, the journal publishes articles of a philosophical or theoretical nature that attempt to advance our understanding of the structures, dynamics, and significations of literary texts.