Comprehension and expression of grammatical structures in Cantonese-speaking preschoolers
We explored the topic of irony comprehension by preschoolers. Two hundred and thirtyone children (77 four-year-olds, 89 five-year-olds, and 65 six-year-olds) were tested with the Irony Comprehension Task (ICT, Banasik and Bokus, in: Poster presented at the psycholinguistics conference in Flanders, Berg en Dal, 2012). Participants were asked questions checking comprehension of the intended meaning behind an ironic comment. Four conditions were used for the ironic utterances: targeted (ironic
... argeted (ironic comment was a reference to the addressee's behavior), non-targeted (ironic comment was not a reference to the addressee's behavior), with symmetric dyads (a child said the ironic comment to another child), and asymmetric dyads (an adult said the ironic comment to a child). All groups achieved high irony comprehension scores. The results show a significant difference in accuracy between the 4-year-olds and the 6-year-olds only. The youngest group more accurately understood ironic utterances that referred to the addressee's action than those that did not, while older children did not show these differences. The aspect of who is speaking to whom was also significant only for the youngest children. These results provide important new insights into factors potentially influencing figurative language comprehension. Components such as participant structure and irony type require acknowledgement in the discussion on irony difficulty.