Making the Grade? Idiom processing by native and non-native speakers
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This paper is investigating the processing of idioms by native and non-native speakers. In particular, it seeks to discover whether there is a processing bias, either literally or figuratively, and whether native speakers and non-native speakers treat idioms in the same way. To do this, two experiments were run. The first experiment was a familiarity task, done by ten participants, in order to find materials for the second experiment. The idioms needed to be highly familiar to participants, and also to occur in either both first languages or neither. Using these idioms, a processing task was designed and run on 40 participants. This experiment found that there is a processing bias for idioms, either in literal or figurative context, for native speakers and that non-native speakers show a literal processing bias. Thus it can be argued that native speakers process idioms faster and do not rely overly on context; whereas non-native speakers first attempt a literal reading of idioms before rejecting it for a figurative one.