We report an investigation of 9-year-olds’ ability to interpret idioms in relation to their reading comprehension level. We manipulated whether the idioms were transparent or opaque, whether they were real or novel, whether they were presented in isolation or in a supportive narrative context. As predicted, children were better able to explain the meanings of idioms in context than in isolation. The good and poor comprehenders did not differ in their abilities to interpret transparent idioms in context, but the poor comprehenders were significantly worse at using context to work out the meanings of opaque idioms. The explanation task revealed the source of information used by the children to derive nontarget interpretations. We discuss these findings in relation to idiom processing strategies and Levorato and Cacciari’s global elaboration model.
Cain was lead author and wrote the manuscript. She designed the experiment, constructed stimuli (with Oakhill) and analysed data. Cain was PI on the New Lecturer Fund (Nottingham University) that funded this work. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Psychology