Idiom comprehension in French-speaking children and adolescents with Williams’ syndrome
This study looks at idiom comprehension by French-speaking people with Williams’ syndrome (WS) and metapragmatic knowledge is examined. Idiomatic expressions are a nonliteral form of language where there is a considerable difference between what is said (literal interpretation) and what is meant (idiomatic interpretation). WS is characterized by a relatively preserved formal language, social interest and poor conversational skills. Using this framework, the present study aims to explore the comprehension of idiomatic expressions by 20 participants with WS. Participants performed a story completion task (comprehension task), and a task of metapragmatic knowledge to justify their chosen answers. WS performances were compared to typically developing children with the same verbal mental age. The main results can be summarized as follows: (1) people with WS have difficulties to understand idioms; (2) WS group seems to perform partly as typically developing children for the acquisition of metapragmatic knowledge of linguistic convention: there is a progressive increase in metapragmatic knowledge of linguistic convention as age increased. Our results indicate a delay of acquisition in idiom comprehension in Williams’ syndrome.