Idiom processing in aphasic patients

Thumbnail Image





Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Versita Ltd., de Gruyter

Title alternative


The aim of the present paper is to provide insight into the issue of idiom comprehension in pa- tients who are in the process of recovery from the syndrome of aphasia. Research in figurative language comprehension has seen a robust development in the recent decades. However, it has not been until quite recently that psycholinguists began to delve into the aspect of metaphorical language comprehension in brain damaged populations. It was observed that even though the ability to produce and understand language is recovered in the majority of patients with head trauma, the impairment of some aspects of comprehension may protract. The understanding of idioms, metaphors, similes and proverbs, due to their specific, non-literal character, has been evi- denced to pose a serious problem to aphasic patients, as they fail to decipher the figurative mean- ing of the utterance, and, instead, tend to process the message literally (Papagno et al. 2004). In the present study, three patients who suffered from aphasic disorder were tested for com- prehension of idioms by means of two multiple choice tasks. The obtained results corroborated the hypothesis that patients who are in the process of recovery from aphasia encounter various pitfalls in the comprehension of idiomatic language. Predominantly, they exhibit an inclination to choose the erroneous, literal paraphrases of the presented idioms over their correct, idiomatic counterparts. The present paper aims at accounting for the reasons underlying such a tendency.




aphasia, idiom, figurative language, language disorder


Poznań Studies in Contemporary Linguistics vol. 45 (2), 2009, pp. 245-260


Title Alternative

Rights Creative Commons

Creative Commons License

Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego