L2 Learners’ Stylistic Penchant and Perceived Aptness for Metaphors and Similes

Document Type : Research Article


Shahrekord University


Aptness, defined as how the vehicle is well able to cover the salient features of the tenor (e.g., oil is like liquid gold vs. a train is like a worm), is claimed to be an important factor in the preference for metaphors over similes, or vice versa. This study was an attempt to test for the supposed correlation between the perceived degree of aptness and a priori stylistic preference for metaphors and similes by Iranian L2 learners. Participants, aged 20-25, were selected from 80 EFL Translation undergraduates. In the first place, they were asked to read 2 alternative lists of the same sentences (lists A and B) and to rate each sentence as to its appropriateness by filling in a number between 2 endpoints of 1 (very inappropriate) and 7 (very appropriate). In the second place, they were invited to consider the 2 alternative forms of the same sentence and to say which one they preferred: the metaphor or the simile form. Results revealed no such strong or moderate relationship between the perceived mean aptness ratings and the mean preference scores for the simile and metaphor versions (r = -0.014 for the metaphors; r = 0.014 for the similes). All things considered, the perceived degree of aptness failed to predict the stylistic preference for metaphors and similes. This comes to the rejection of the validity of the claim put forth by Chiappe and Kennedy (1999) regarding the predictive power of aptness to inform the preference of metaphors and similes by Iranian L2 learners.