The relationship between the content and the form of metaphorical statements

Xu Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recent research suggests that the quality of a metaphorical topic-vehicle pairing should be the determinant to the choice of a proper grammatical form, nominal metaphor versus simile. Two studies examined the relationship between the quality of the content of a metaphorical statement and its grammatical form. Study 1 showed that the two grammatical forms did not differ in aptness when the quality of topic-vehicle pairs and the conventionality of vehicles, a factor associated with the quality of metaphorical expressions, were controlled. With an online comprehension measure, Study 2 found that high quality metaphorical pairings were easier to process than low quality metaphorical pairings in both the metaphor form and the simile form. For high quality metaphorical pairings, information related to both the topics and the vehicles was highly activated at an early stage of processing. The relations among factors involved in the interpretive process of metaphorical language are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Linguistics and Language


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