Playing with second language metaphor: An exploration with advanced Chinese learners of English

David O'Reilly, Luling Yan

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The present study continues research that takes non-serious language more seriously (Cekaite and Aronsson 2005) by focusing on a central second language (L2) Metaphoric Competence factor, Metaphor Language Play (MLP). For willing learners, MLP offers a diversity of benefits (Bushnell 2009; Bell 2012a) despite being one of the most challenging Metaphoric Competence aspects (O’Reilly and Marsden 2021). While studies provide rich descriptions of naturally occurring MLP, elicitation approaches are needed to target comprehension/production of specific forms/meanings/usages and types of play, for example, comprehension of US sitcom humour (Dore 2015). With 69 advanced first-language Mandarin L2 English learners, we addressed these issues via an Exploratory Factor Analysis to uncover hitherto unknown relationships between written/spoken/receptive/productive MLP measures, and a thematic analysis of the linguistic, conceptual, and metalinguistic themes in learners’ MLP. The findings revealed three underlying MLP factors, two positively related, and a rich set of linguistic, conceptual, and metalinguistic themes. The implications of findings for future research and pedagogy are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberamad067
Number of pages23
JournalApplied Linguistics
Early online date23 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2023

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© The Author(s) (2023).

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