2009 | 40 | 4 | 38-48
Article title

Toward a Shared Metaphoric Meaning in Children's Discourse: The Role of Argumentation

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The text deals with the phenomenon of understanding and interpreting metaphoric expressions in children. Of the many metaphoric figures, one type was selected: the so-called 'psychological-physical metaphors' that illuminate a psychological experience by appealing to an event in the physical domain. The data consist of children's discussions in pairs, in which they make a joint interpretation of metaphors including a dual-function adjective, e.g., a hard person, a sweet person, an empty person. A hundred and forty-four dialogues between peer dyads were recorded from three age groups (48 dialogues from each group): 6;6-7;6, 8;6-9;6, and 10;6-11;6. The children's task was to prepare an interpretation of metaphorical expressions for two television quiz shows, one for peers and one for young preschoolers. The research design was balanced for age, gender, and order of metaphoric interpretation in the two experimental variants. Following Quignard's model (2005), the authors analyzed children's argumentation as a particular case of dialogical problem solving, whereby children had to understand the metaphoric meaning and convey it to the potential addressee. The results show an interesting dynamic in the argumentative orientation of the pro and the contra type, depending on the age of interlocutors. The frequency of metaphoric interpretations in opposition to those presented by the partner decreases with the children's age, but the frequency of compound proposals with the use of the partner's contribution increases. For the younger addressee, children most frequently interpret metaphors as descriptions of magical situations.
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