Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Wendy van Ginkel (Donders series 403)

28 November 2019

Promotor: prof. dr. A. Dijkstra, co-promotor: dr. H. Strik

It’s all smooth sailing: Figurative and literal aspects of language comprehension

When someone tells you they have missed the boat, there are two ways to interpret this message: someone has literally just missed a boat, or someone has figuratively missed out on an opportunity. The context of the sentence will provide more information regarding the intended meaning of the sentence, but how does our brain decide what is figurative and what is literal? And if something is interpreted figuratively, does this mean that its literal meaning is no longer available? In her doctoral thesis, Wendy van Ginkel investigated how figurative and literal language is understood and processed by native speakers and second language speakers of Dutch. By using figurative language in (neuro-)psychological research, we can form a wider understanding of the way the human brain processes language. In her promotion, Wendy van Ginkel shows that understanding the processing of figurative language is certainly not a walk in the park, but that it is an important step for psycholinguistics as a whole.