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Title:The Use of Figurative Devices in Aiding Comprehension for Speakers of Black English
Author(s):Taylor, Marsha Anne
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Reading
Abstract:Several areas of difficulty have been uncovered in an attempt to explain why the academic achievement of black children has not equaled the academic achievement of their white counterparts. By far the greatest attention in recent years has been devoted to explanations which are rooted in language behavior. The topic of "language behavior" encompasses a wide arena but one aspect hitherto not examined by researchers, but which may be the focus of interesting differences in the language of black and white children, is the use of figurative language.
Figurative language is a device used abundantly not only in educational writing and in literary art, but as a pedagogical tool for a variety of reasons (Ortony, 1975). Black children are exposed to, and employ several types of figurative expressions; in fact, children as young as seven and eight have been observed using nonliteral devices in verbal games such as signifying and sounding. But is this solely a vernacular skill or can it be capitalized upon in other settings, particularly in educational environments?
This dissertation examined two questions. Is skill in sounding related to the comprehension of figurative devices in a general reading task? What types of abilities underlie sounding which may affect the ability to comprehend figurative devices? Black and white junior high school students were given a series of tasks which sought to determine verbal facility, figurative language comprehension both in- and out-of-context, sounding skill, and general skill in Black Language. A series of step-wise multiple regressions were done to analyze relationships.
The results indicated very different relations among specific language skills, general language ability and figurative language comprehension for blacks and whites. For white subjects, most of the variance that can be explained in figurative language comprehension, both in-context and out-of-context, is accounted for by a measure of general verbal ability. For black subjects figurative language comprehension in-context was a skill related not only to general verbal ability but also to facility in sounding. Educational implications for these results are discussed in light of previous attitudes toward the use of "nonstandard" language patterns in the classroom.
Issue Date:1982
Description:157 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8303005
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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