A Usage-Based Approach to Metaphor Identification and Analysis in Child Speech

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a usage-based method for investigating metaphor acquisition in the speech of children aged two and above. The method draws on the strengths of the established tools for metaphor identification such as Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP), and Metaphor Identification Procedure VU University Amsterdam (MIP-VU), and adapts them for coding and analysing metaphors in the corpora of naturalistic interactions between children and their primary caregivers, such as those stored online in the CHILDES TalkBank. First, we discuss the premises underlying our methodological framework and provide a coding manual for working with child language. Second, we explain how to approach the challenges of coding transcripts of child speech and demonstrate how we reached high inter-annotator reliability scores of 0.97. We then show how the coding scheme works with a sample corpus of a child recorded between the ages of 2;0-3;1. To illustrate how the scheme can be applied to the study of metaphor acquisition, we analyse the coded metaphors for input-output frequencies. It is argued that our method can offer a unique lens for exploring metaphor production in very young children and it can help us to understand how children come to express their very first figurative meanings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages25
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023


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