Publication Details

Loukusa, S. & Leinonen, E. K. (2008). Development of comprehension of ironic utterances in 3-to 9-year-old Finnish-speaking children. Psychology of Language and Communication, 12 (1), 55-69.


This study explores the comprehension of simple ironic utterances in 210 Finnish children aged from 3 to 9 years. If the child answered the question correctly, he/she was asked to explain correct answers. The results indicated that there was large individual variation within age groups both in answers and explanations. In terms of correct answers there was a significant difference between 6- and 7-year-olds and in correct explanations between age groups of 3-4, 6-7 and 7-8. Analysis of incorrect answers showed that literal interpretation of an utterance was the most common incorrect answer type in all age groups. Totally irrelevant answers occurred only in children aged 3 and 4. In terms of incorrect explanations, "turntaking" and "incorrect focus" categories were the most common incorrect explanation types. Contrary to previous studies, in this study already some of the 3- and 4-year-olds showed an emerging ability to comprehend irony.



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