Early Metaphorical Communication: Farsi-Speaking Children Beginning to Learn Proverbs


Dominant trends of studies on child language and communication have been traditionally concerned with early words and syntax. Little attention has been paid to the emergence of metaphorical and discursive aspects of child language. However, beyond the scope of formal linguistics and traditional cognitive psychology, nonliteral language use is an integral aspect of language acquisition that needs to be dealt with in child language research. This study explores the emergence of proverbs (as complex instances of nonliteral communication) in the language of 6 and 8-year-old Farsi speaking children in two primary schools in Tehran. It is observed that the participants’ knowledge of common Farsi proverbs is beyond the expectations that may be hypothesized based on the existing thin body of literature on proverbs in children’s communication. This relatively early emergence of proverbs in the language of Farsi speaking children and its possible interpretations are discussed in this article.