AbstractOur topic is an under-theorized type of closed simile in which the ground represents a non-salient feature of the source term (e.g., as quiet as a weight, as opposed to a standard simile, e.g., as heavy as a weight). The non-standard simile introduces a semantic difficulty, a result of the unexpected mismatch between ground and source. Since they are highly prevalent in poetic texts there is special interest in investigating the ways subjects attempt to comprehend such similes. To that end, we have asked 62 subjects to interpret pairs of similes distinguished only by the salience of the ground. We identify 5 response types and find that these are unevenly distributed across the two simile types (standard and non-standard). The structural difference between the two kinds of similes, therefore, evokes different interpretational strategies. Additionally, we find that the non-standard simile entails a hit-or-miss potentiality, creating conditions for either an insightful interpretation or a rejection of any possibility of its coherent comprehension.
Journal of Literary Semantics – de Gruyter
Published: Dec 19, 2018
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