The comprehension of figurative language by Afrikaans-speaking children with and without specific language impairment and by child second language speakers of Afrikaans

Van der Merwe, Kristin Catherine (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2008-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2008.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Children experiencing language disorders have often been noted to have difficulty in comprehending figurative language, to a greater or lesser degree. The present study examined and compared the comprehension of figurative language, namely idioms and similes, in three groups of boys between the ages of 8 and 10. These three groups included (i) typically developing Afrikaans first language speakers, (ii) typically developing Afrikaans second language speakers (L2) and (iii) Afrikaans first language speakers with specific language impairment (SLI). A total of 18 participants were studied. The participants were interviewed individually and tests were conducted verbally. 25 idioms and 25 similes obtained from Die Afrikaanse Semantiese Taalevaluering (AST) were used. No contexts were provided for the idioms initially, but if the participant produced an incorrect or literal answer for the idiom, the idiom was placed in context. The use of context proved to be beneficial to all groups. Similes were read to the participant, who had to provide the final word as a response. The similes proved easier for all groups to comprehend, possibly due to their greater explicitness. The data were analysed statistically, but due to the small sample size, the participants were also examined individually as case studies, which provided further insight into the results obtained and revealed the non-homogeneity within the SLI group. The performance of the SLI group proved to be slightly inferior to that of the other two groups, but no statistically significant differences were found among the three groups. The L2 participants were asked to translate the idioms and similes into English. It was found that the Afrikaans idioms and similes were seldom likened to their English equivalents. Idioms which were semantically and syntactically similar or identical to the Afrikaans sentences often incited literal interpretations. Incorrect phonological transfers also appeared to create confusion and to obscure meaning. The L2 speakers’ difficulties possibly arose from (i) a lack of familiarity with figurative language, (ii) an inability to grasp figurative language, and/or (iii) a lack of proficiency in Afrikaans. Pedagogical implications and recommendations are discussed, and comments are made regarding future research on this topic.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kinders met taalversteurings blyk dikwels ook tot 'n minder of meerdere mate probleme te hê met die begrip van figuurlike taal. Hierdie studie ondersoek en vergelyk die begrip van figuurlike taal, naamlik idiome en vergelykings, in drie groepe seuns tussen die ouderdomme van 8 en 10 jaar. Hierdie drie groepe sluit in (i) tipies-ontwikkelende Afrikaans eerstetaalsprekers, (ii) tipies ontwikkelende Afrikaans tweedetaalsprekers, en (iii) Afrikaans eertetaalsprekers met spesifieke taalgestremdheid (STG). 'n Totaal van 18 deelnemers is bestudeer. Onderhoude is individueel met elke deelnemer gevoer en toetse is verbaal uitgevoer. 25 idiome van Die Afrikaanse Semantiese Taalevaluering (AST) is gebruik. Aanvanklik is geen konteks gegee nie, maar indien die deelnemer 'n verkeerde of letterlike antwoord vir 'n idioom gegee het, is die idioom in konteks geplaas. Die gebruik van konteks het in alle groepe 'n positiewe effek gehad. Vergelykings is aan deelnemers gelees, waar hulle as respons die laaste woord moes verskaf. Die vergelykings was vir alle groepe makliker vir begrip, moontlik weens hulle hoër vlak van eksplisiteit. Die data is statisties geanaliseer, maar weens die klein aantal deelnemers is elkeen ook individiueel as 'n gevallestudie ondersoek, wat verdere insigte in die resultate gelewer het, en die nie-homogeniteit van die STG groep aangedui het. Die prestasie van die deelnemers met STG was effens onder dié van die ander twee groepe, maar geen statisties-beduidende verskille is onder die drie groepe gevind nie. Die tweedetaal-deelnemers is gevra om die idiome en vergelykings in Engels te vertaal. Daar is gevind dat die Afrikaanse idiome en vergelykings selde aan hulle Engelse ekwivalente gekoppel is. Letterlike interpretasies is dikwels gegee vir idiome wat sintakties en semanties eenders is as die Afrikaanse sin. Verkeerde fonologiese oordragte het ook verwarring veroorsaak en betekenis verduister. Die probleme van die tweedetaal-deelnemers is moontlik as gevolg van (i) onvoldoende vertroudheid met figuurlike taal, (ii) onvermoë om figuurlike taal te interpreteer, en/of (iii) onvoldoende vaardigheid in Afrikaans. Pedagogiese implikasies en aanbevelings word bespreek, en kommentaar word gelewer oor verdere ondersoek op hierdie gebied.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/21912
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