Novel metonymy processing in discourse
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Figurative language is pervasive to natural communication. However not all figurative language is similar. Metonymies are particularly different in that they act as a form of figurative referential language and are easily understood and used in discourse (Frisson & Pickering, 1999; 2007; McElree et al., 2006; Gibbs, 1999), even for people with communication difficulties (i.e.: people with ASD) (McKay & Shaw, 2004; Rundbald & Annaz, 2010). Novel metonymies also appear to be processed with little trouble, at least when context supports a metonymic interpretation (Frisson & Pickering, 2007). The present study sought to replicate and extend the results from the literature on novel metonymy processing and, to examine how people with a high prevalence of autistic traits will process these novel metonymies, given the likelihood of the presence of communication difficulties. However, no effect of context was observed for either people scoring low or high on the AQ, instead there was a significant effect of metonymy, where the novel metonymic use of the noun was always more difficult to process for all participants. Furthermore, there were atypical fixations for the context and critical regions for people scoring high on the AQ. Implications for using the AQ as a continuous scale versus a categorical scale and possible differential processing for different metonymies (logical versus conceptual) is discussed.