Effects of Familiarity on Idiom Comprehension in African American and European American Fifth Graders In order to test the language experience hypothesis, the comprehension of high-, moderate-, and low-familiarity idioms was examined in African American (N = 24) and European American (N= 24) fifth-grade students in the Mid-South. This study was designed to augment the existing literature on cross-cultural idiom comprehension, of which there ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1999
Effects of Familiarity on Idiom Comprehension in African American and European American Fifth Graders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Constance Dean Qualls
    The Pennsylvania State University, 105 Moore Building, University Park, PA 16802
  • Joyce L. Harris
    The University of Memphis, TN
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: cdq2@psu.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1999
Effects of Familiarity on Idiom Comprehension in African American and European American Fifth Graders
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 1999, Vol. 30, 141-151. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.3002.141
History: Received January 27, 1997 , Accepted May 18, 1998
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 1999, Vol. 30, 141-151. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.3002.141
History: Received January 27, 1997; Accepted May 18, 1998

In order to test the language experience hypothesis, the comprehension of high-, moderate-, and low-familiarity idioms was examined in African American (N = 24) and European American (N= 24) fifth-grade students in the Mid-South. This study was designed to augment the existing literature on cross-cultural idiom comprehension, of which there is a paucity of research, and provide a look from a culturally diverse perspective at idiom comprehension in youth. Results indicate a significant effect of group on idioms rated as low-familiarity, whereas idioms rated as high- and moderate-familiarity did not distinguish the groups. Additionally, the current results indicate a pattern of comprehension that is different from that found in previous studies, based on levels of familiarity (Nippold & Rudzinski, 1993) that were established in a different U.S. geographic location. The influences of social and regional culture on idiom comprehension and familiarity is discussed, and a preliminary hypothesis is proposed to explain these influences.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Appreciation is extended to the students, their teachers, and the school principals, who served as willing participants, and to Marilyn Nippold, who shared a subset of her data. The authors also wish to thank Nancy Creaghead and the other reviewers for their valuable and insightful comments. This research was funded by OSERS Grant #H029D10070.
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