IntroductionIt is well documented that people with Asperger’s syndrome and other autism
spectrum disorders have difficulty interpreting everyday phrases that must be
interpreted symbolically rather than literally. For example, a little bird told me literally implies that a bird assumed the powers of speech and gave information,
whilst the symbolic meaning is of course rather different.1 However, it is worth
noting that everyone can have problems with dealing with phrases like this from
time to time. In practical terms, the only difference between someone with
Asperger’s syndrome and someone without it is the frequency with which this
occurs.Dealing with this problem is itself difficult. The most obvious solution is to
not interpret any phrase literally. However, not only is it the most obvious, it is
also the most stupid. This would make unambiguous language impossible to
understand. Advising people to use context to interpret the symbolic meaning of
something that is nonsensical if interpreted literally is likewise unworkable, even
for someone with very high linguistic skills.Arguably the only practical solution is to use a dictionary such as this, which
gives definitions of at least the commoner everyday phrases. The phrases I have
chosen for inclusion are ones that appear to be the most often used amongst UK
English speakers. There are a considerable number of common American English
phrases, and some Australian phrases as well. Together, they cover the majority of
the everyday phrases that are potentially confusing for English speakers in most
countries. There are of course many other phrases that could have been included,
but arguably this is a case of diminishing returns. In other words, it was either a
dictionary this size or a truly enormous one (at least four times the size) with
many of the phrases being very rare indeed. In making my selections, I chose not
to include the following:
|1. ||Contemporary slang, for the simple reason that most of it lasts a few
months and then is replaced by other slang.|
1 The meaning of a little bird told me and other phrases used in the Introduction
are given in the dictionary.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: An Asperger Dictionary of Everyday Expressions.
Contributors: Ian Stuart-Hamilton - Author.
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley.
Place of publication: London.
Publication year: 2007.
Page number: 7.
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