Location of Repository

A dataset of metaphors from the italian literature: exploring psycholinguistic variables and the role of context.

By Valentina Bambini, Donatella Resta and Mirko Grimaldi


Defining the specific role of the factors that affect metaphor processing is a fundamental step for fully understanding figurative language comprehension, either in discourse and conversation or in reading poems and novels. This study extends the currently available materials on everyday metaphorical expressions by providing the first dataset of metaphors extracted from literary texts and scored for the major psycholinguistic variables, considering also the effect of context. A set of 115 Italian literary metaphors presented in isolation (Experiment 1) and a subset of 65 literary metaphors embedded in their original texts (Experiment 2) were rated on several dimensions (word and phrase frequency, readability, cloze probability, familiarity, concreteness, difficulty and meaningfulness). Overall, literary metaphors scored around medium-low values on all dimensions in both experiments. Collected data were subjected to correlation analysis, which showed the presence of a strong cluster of variables-mainly familiarity, difficulty, and meaningfulness-when literary metaphor were presented in isolation. A weaker cluster was observed when literary metaphors were presented in the original contexts, with familiarity no longer correlating with meaningfulness. Context manipulation influenced familiarity, concreteness and difficulty ratings, which were lower in context than out of context, while meaningfulness increased. Throughout the different dimensions, the literary context seems to promote a global interpretative activity that enhances the open-endedness of the metaphor as a semantic structure constantly open to all possible interpretations intended by the author and driven by the text. This dataset will be useful for the design of future experimental studies both on literary metaphor and on the role of context in figurative meaning, combining ecological validity and aesthetic aspects of language

Topics: Medicine, R, Science, Q
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105634
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:e362f8e372974c0ab2043ba3cf516732
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • https://doaj.org/toc/1932-6203 (external link)
  • http://europepmc.org/articles/... (external link)
  • https://doaj.org/article/e362f... (external link)
  • Suggested articles

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.