Idiomaticity, familiarity and preceding information in BP idioms processing

Abstract: Idioms are typically characterized as non-compositional strings of words in which figurative meaning cannot be derived from the interpretation of its parts; the degree of compositionality, however, is variable. This paper investigates the comprehension of verb + complement idioms in Brazilian Portuguese (e.g. “passar a bola”, “pintar o sete”). Our research intends to explore to what extent internal and external factors affect the comprehension of idioms. We report the results of a maze task (self-paced reading experiment) in which the critical segment was related to the verb complement: idiomatic vs. literal complement (e.g. open the heart/ the door). The results revealed significant effects of the three investigated variables, suggesting that the degree of idiomaticity, the speaker's familiarity with the idiom and the previous context affect the processing of the idioms and, therefore, should be considered in a model that aims to explain the representation, access and comprehension of these structures.