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Relation of cognitive style to metaphor interpretation and second language proficiency

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Janice Johnson*
York University
Teresa Rosano*
York University
Janice Johnson, Psychology Department, York University, 4700 Keele Street, North York, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada
Janice Johnson, Psychology Department, York University, 4700 Keele Street, North York, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada


This study examined relationships among measures of language proficiency, cognitive style, and metaphor comprehension. Subjects were university students who were native English speakers or who were enrolled in a course on English as a second language (ESL). Consistent with predictions, native English speakers scored better than ESL students on academic measures of English proficiency, but there were no group differences on level of cognitive sophistication in English metaphor interpretation or on a measure of metaphor fluency (number of metaphor interpretations produced). For ESL students, metaphor fluency was positively related to a measure of English communicative proficiency, whereas a measure of field independence was negatively related with both metaphor fluency and communicative proficiency. These findings on cognitive style are consistent with theoretical predictions that have heretofore found little empirical support in the second language literature.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1993

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