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Meir’s (2010) Double Mapping Constraint (DMC) states the use of iconic signs in metaphors is restricted to signs that preserve the structural correspondence between the articulators and the concrete source domain and between the concrete and metaphorical domains. We investigated ASL signers’ comprehension of English metaphors whose translations complied with the DMC (Communication collapsed during the meeting) or violated the DMC (The acid ate the metal). Metaphors were preceded by the ASL translation of the English verb, an unrelated sign, or a still video. Participants made sensibility judgments. Response times (RTs) were faster for DMC-Compliant sentences with verb primes compared to unrelated primes or the still baseline. RTs for DMC-Violation sentences were longer when preceded by verb primes. We propose the structured iconicity of the ASL verbs primed the semantic features involved in the iconic mapping and these primed semantic features facilitated comprehension of DMC-Compliant metaphors and slowed comprehension of DMC-Violation metaphors.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Sign Language & Linguistics, volume 23, issue 1/2, in 2020 following peer review. This article may not exactly replicate the final published version. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

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John Benjamins Publishing Company



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