Investigating the Factors Influencing the Comprehension of Idiom Variation in a Second Language

  •  Yi Guo    
  •  Mingjian Xiang    


In the age of information and technology, idiom variation driven by linguistic creativity occurs more frequently than ever before. This poses a great challenge for L2 learners. The present study conducted a set of tests to investigate the effects of familiarity, L2 proficiency level, variation type, and L1 figurative competence on Chinese EFL learners’ comprehension of English idiom variants. The results revealed significant main effects of familiarity and L2 proficiency level on learners’ performance. Figurative-level variation was the most difficult to understand, followed by idioms with literal-scene modification and simple constructional adaptations. The influence of L1 figurative competence needs to be determined in combination with L2 skills. Pedagogically, the findings call attention to the factors that cause comprehension difficulty to deal with the flexible use of L2 figurative language.

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