Nonliteral Language Use

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  • Nonliteral language is the term given to language that conveys altered or indirect meaning. This kind of language is also known as figurative language or figures of speech. The speakers intend a meaning that is different from that which could be derived from a direct, literal interpretation of the words; they do not mean what they say. Nonliteral language forms include metaphor, simile, idiom, proverb, hyperbole, understatement, and irony (including sarcasm). In general, these language forms present a challenge for children to begin to use and understand because they require complex inferences. As such, nonliteral language use and appreciation develop over quite a long period in middle childhood. This is particularly true for those forms of nonliteral language where literal and nonliteral meanings differ in ...

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