Chapter 9. English native speakers’ interpretations of culture-bound Japanese figurative expressions

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Every language has its unique figurative expressions. This chapter focuses on culture-bound Japanese figurative expressions, how these were interpreted by speakers of English, and the strategies that were used in their interpretations. The Japanese expressions used in the investigation were translated literally into English (called here ‘raw’ translations). Among the test items, there were included figurative expressions displaying highly culture-bound elements, which made these expressions problematic for non-native speakers of Japanese. The participants in this study used a variety of strategies when interpreting them: for example, resorting to the knowledge of their mother tongue, utilizing schematic knowledge, and/or logical thinking. However, these cognitive processes may have ambivalent effects, especially on the interpretations of highly culture-bound figurative expressions in a foreign language.


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