The development of Primary Metaphors

Metaphors are commonly used in everyday language, especially within teaching. Our previous research has shown that young children are able to only understand some metaphors. Primary metaphors (e.g., Happy is UP) are the basis of more complex metaphors and thus primary metaphors should precede the development of more complex figurative expressions. It is suggested that the understanding of primary metaphors is related to life and body experiences. However, not much is known about how children understand primary metaphors and how this understanding changes with age. Our research is investigating the development of primary metaphors by comparing different age groups. A better understanding of how children understand primary metaphors can help us to understand why children are not able to understand all metaphors from a young age onwards and help us to advice teachers better about what language to use when they teach children new concepts.

From June 24th to June 28th 2013, my students and I will be collecting data at the Rose theatre, Kingston as part of Kingston Connections. For further details, please see: Feel free to pop in and participate in this fun, short project!