Producing figurative meanings: the case of idioms

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This paper explores the hypothesis that definiteness marking can be used as a tool for the speaker to trigger idiomaticity. In an experiment, we asked participants to produce the content of newly created figurative expressions. The results showed that the manipulation of a single parameter, definiteness marking, gave rise to a difference in the type of content participants produced for the novel figurative expressions. In particular, figurative expressions that contained a pragmatically unlicensed definite article gave rise to greater idiomaticity than expressions that contained a (licensed) indefinite article. Violating the felicity conditions on the use of a definite article is therefore one way for the speaker to produce figuration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProducing figurative expression
    Subtitle of host publicationtheoretical, experimental and practical perspectives
    EditorsJohn Barnden, Andrew Gargett
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam
    PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Electronic)9789027260406
    ISBN (Print)9789027208033
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Publication series

    NameFigurative Thought and Language
    ISSN (Print)2405-6944


    • figurative expressions
    • idiomaticity
    • definiteness marking
    • Dutch


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