Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
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Earlier studies have shown that conceptually supportive context is an important factor in the comprehension of metaphors (Inhoff, Lima, & Carroll, 1984Ortony, Schallert, Reynolds, & Antos, 1978). However, little empirical evidence has been found so far regarding contextual effects on metonymy processing (Lowder & Gordon, 2013). Implementing an eye-tracking experiment with Chinese materials, this present paper investigated whether and how preceding contextual information affects the processing of metonymy. The results show that for unfamiliar metonymies, it takes readers longer time to interpret unfamiliar metonymies than to literally interpret them given a shorter context. However, the processing disparity between metonymic comprehension and literal comprehension disappears when longer supportive information is available in the preceding context. These results are analogous to those found for metaphors and familiar metonymies, supporting the parallel model of language processing. In addition, our results suggest that the presence of supportive preceding context facilitates the processing of unfamiliar metonymies more than it does to the literal controls.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): contextual effects; eye tracking; metonymy processing
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