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How accessible are idioms to children? A Corpus Study Investigating Idiom Frequency in English Juvenile Fiction

Komulainen, Amanda (2024) How accessible are idioms to children? A Corpus Study Investigating Idiom Frequency in English Juvenile Fiction. Bachelor's Thesis, Artificial Intelligence.


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Idioms are commonly occurring expressions in everyday life which can be challenging for language learners, such as children, to learn. This difficulty arises in retrieving the intended meaning of an idiom, since the meaning can be literal or figurative. Exposure to idioms is one of the factors that has been found to contribute to idiom understanding in children (E.g., Levorato & Cacciari, 1991; Springer et al., 2019; Lodge & leach, 1975), which is commonly measured through familiarity ratings. The current study, however, explored a different way of operationalizing exposure, namely by analysing a corpus of children literature. By looking at idiom presence directly through children’s linguistic environments, this study aimed to enrich the understanding of how exposure plays a part in idiom acquisition in children. The idioms were found by extracting frequent N-grams with varying degrees of N from the data, followed by judgements of idiomaticity on the N-grams. As a result, 46 idiomatic N-grams were found. However, the proportion of literal and figurative uses of each idiom varied across all idioms. The overall figurative uses were relatively fewer than the literal uses. With the limitations of the study in mind, the results may indicate that idioms are seldom used figuratively in children’s literature and suggests that children may be more exposed to figuratively used idioms through a different linguistic environment.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Supervisor name: Jones, S.M. and Rij-Tange, J.C. van
Degree programme: Artificial Intelligence
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 14 May 2024 07:21
Last Modified: 14 May 2024 07:21

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