My favorite children’s book was (and still is) Matilda, by Roald Dahl. The story is about Matilda Wormwood, an extraordinarily clever and sweet five year old girl who loves to learn and read. Unfortunately, her unpleasant parents are contemptuous of her inquisitiveness and talent, as is the headmistress of her school, Miss Trunchbull. While Matilda’s parents force her to eat microwave dinners and watch loud game shows on TV, the child-hating Miss Trunchbull sows fear by locking children up in a device called the Chokey (a claustrophobic closet with spikes perforating the walls) or launching them across the schoolyard after swirling them around by their braids. Then, Matilda finds out she has psychokinetic powers and decides to use them to teach her parents and headmistress a lesson. The magic of this book was that it made me feel like being drawn away from reality and into Matilda’s world: I could feel her eagerness to learn and her frustration with her parents, I could see her father’s face and hear him shouting when she super-glued his hat to his head, and I envisioned what it looked like when she used her special powers to make crayons fly and write messages on a chalkboard to scare the life out of Miss Trunchbull. How is this possible? How can abstract symbols such as letters and words on a page come to life, engage you, create vivid images, and make you feel like you experience the described events yourself?

Additional Metadata
Keywords bilingualism, eye tracking, language, specificity, transparency, visual representations
Promotor R.A. Zwaan (Rolf)
Publisher Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam
ISBN 978-90-6464-594-5
Persistent URL
Vandeberg, L. (2012, November 16). Language in the Mind's Eye: Visual Representations and Language Processing. Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam. Retrieved from