Normative data for idiomatic expressions

Emily Nordmann, Antonia A. Jambazova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Idiomatic expressions such as kick the bucket or go down a storm can differ on a number of internal features, such as familiarity, meaning, literality, and decomposability, and these types of features have been the focus of a number of normative studies. In this article, we provide normative data for a set of Bulgarian idioms and their English translations, and by doing so replicate in a Slavic language the relationships between the ratings previously found in Romance and Germanic languages. Additionally, we compared whether collecting these types of ratings in between-subjects or within-subjects designs affects the data and the conclusions drawn, and found no evidence that design type affects the final outcome. Finally, we present the results of a meta-analysis that summarizes the relationships found across the literature. As in many previous individual studies, we found that familiarity correlates with a number of other features; however, such studies have shown conflicting results concerning literality and decomposability ratings. The meta-analysis revealed reliable relationships of decomposability with a number of other measures, such as familiarity, meaning, and predictability. Conversely, literality was shown to have little to no relationship with any of the other subjective ratings. The implications for these relationships in the context of the wider experimental literature are discussed, with a particular focus on the importance of attaining familiarity ratings for each sample of participants in experimental work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-215
Number of pages18
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • idioms
  • normative data
  • novel idioms
  • familiarity
  • literality
  • decomposability
  • meta-analysis


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