Perceived Attributions of Discourse Goals for Using Metaphors and Similes by Iranian EFL Undergraduates

  • Mahmood Hashemian
  • Mehdi Iravani


The bulk of L2 research on figures of speech boils down to the comprehension domain. By contrast, little work has been conducted on the investigation of the discourse goals for the speaker or the writer's figurative production. This study, going beyond the customary metalinguistic approaches to figurative investigation, aimed at shedding light into a number of different discourse goals as they were identified by Iranian EFL undergraduates in sentences containing figurative language based on 4 independent variables: Figure Type, Tenor Concreteness, Context, and Modality. The participants were given a number of sentences, containing both metaphors and similes, and were asked to choose as many 12 discourse goals as possible which they considered to be the reasons for triggering the utterances. The results indicated that the discourse goal of Compare Similarities was more frequently selected for similes than for metaphors by the participants. The Context variable turned out to have significant interaction with the choice of the discourse goals of Provoke Thought, Get Attention, Clarify, and Contrast Differences, whereas the factor of Modality influenced only Add Emphasis. Also, 3 goals, Add Interest, Clarify, and Show Positive Emotion significantly affected Tenor Concreteness. Comparatively, some marked differences were noticed between Iranian L2 learners and native speakers. L2 teachers are, therefore, advised to more emphasize the correct attributions of discourse goals for metaphors and similes.
Hashemian, M., & Iravani, M. (2011). Perceived Attributions of Discourse Goals for Using Metaphors and Similes by Iranian EFL Undergraduates. Linguistik Online, 46(2).