Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Tropic implicature and context in the comprehension of idiomatic phrases

  • Michael A. Forrester


Research concerned with how people understand idiomatic expressions has focused primarily on lexicalization, familiarity or literalness. In contrast, this study examined the extent to which comprehending idiomatic phrases in context depends upon the words which make up such phrases. Using reading time as a dependent measure and by substituting idiomatic expressions with phrases which retain the equivalent semantic meaning in context, the role of familiarity and literalness were again investigated. The results lend support to the importance of familiarity in comprehending idiomatic expressions (Schweigert, 1991); however, they raise questions about the extent to which idiomatic phrases are syntactically frozen. The findings provide a platform for considering contemporary theories of idiomatic comprehension and related theories of meaning.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Forrester
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Social and Applied PsychologyUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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