FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE COMPETENCE OF TURKISH YOUNG ADULTS WITH DOWN SYNDROME: AN ANALYSIS OF IDIOM COMPREHENSION AND INTERPRETATION
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KORKMAZ, Nurbanu. Figurative Language Competence of Turkish Young Adults with Down Syndrome: An Analysis of Idiom Comprehension and Interpretation, Ph.D. Dissertation, Ankara, 2021. With a particular emphasis on idiom interpretation, the present dissertation aims at explaining the figurative comprehension of Turkish young adults with mild- level Down syndrome, comparing them with their typically developing chronological and mental age peers. Based on the two main hypotheses, i.e., Global Elaboration Model by Levorato and Cacciari (1995, 1999) and the Language Experience Hypothesis by Ortony et al. (1985), the study focuses on the performances of each group of subjects in a comparative manner. The data collection tools, composed of 12 familiar and 12 unfamiliar idioms, which are categorized in 6 first-degree and 6 third-degree idiom groups, have been tested with idiom-picture matching and in-context tasks. To evaluate the mental scores of all participants, Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition has been used. The findings elicited after the analyses of the applied task results demonstrate that the figurative comprehension of idioms was significantly weaker in individuals with Down syndrome than chronologically-matched typically developing controls. However, the participants with DS exhibit similar performances to those of the typically developing mental age peers. In relation to the types of tested idioms, the better performances of the DS group subjects have been observed in the comprehension of familiar and first-degree idioms, meaning that the familiarity and the semantic degree of idioms significantly mattered. The findings of the study also provide that as the mental age of the DS participants increases, so does their idiom interpretation increase. Additionally, the findings confirm the Global Elaboration Model and, taking it one step further, show that use of context is another facilitating factor for DS individuals, just as it is for typically developing subjects. The study, besides the field of linguistics, also contributes to the language- based visions and practices of special education experts, speech and language therapists, teachers and families, whose educational and therapeutic approaches matter in the lives of individuals with DS.