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Metaphor and Metonymy Group

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Workshop on Metonymy
Hamburg University, Germany June 23-24, 1996.

Prof. Radden, Prof. Panther
Seminar für Englische Sprache und Kultur
Von-Melle-Park 6
20146 Hamburg



Co-presence and Succession: a cognitive typology of metonymy

Andreas Blank, FU Berlin

In this paper I will make three claims:

1. By contrast to metaphor, which is based on conceptual similarity, metonymic innovation uses the association of contiguity. It is important to point out that contiguity does not rely on a relation beteween intralinguistic semantic features (as defined by European structural semantics), but - without any exception - on extralinguistic mental representation, i.e. on the two concepts involved in the metonymic process. Thus, metonymies rely on world knowledge and connotations (cf. Blank, 1993; forthcoming).

2. During the process of metonymic innovation, the word linked to the donator concept is transferred to the target concept. Target and donator concept are quite often rleated to each other in conceptual clusters that have been described as 'Frames', 'Scenes', 'Scenarios' etc. (cf. Fillmore 1975,1977). More exactly the relevant contiguity is between
a) concepts in frames (L praeco > 'messenger' > OSp pregon, OPt pregao 'message');
b) concepts and the superordinate frame (ME travail 'pain' > NE travel 'journey')
c) related frames (OF disner 'to have breakfast' > NF diner 'to have lunch' > 'to have dinner').

3. All contiguous conceptual relations giving rise to metonymies are either co-present or successive (cf. Bonhomme 1987). Co-present relations rely on the synchronsm of their elements, successive relations rely on a spatial, temporal or logical sequence. Co-present relations exist between the ACTORS (people, animals, institutions,) interacting in a frame, their ACTIVITY, INSTRUMENTS, TOOLs, affected OBJECTS, the PLACE where an activity is held, and the TIME at which this activity usually is performed. Co-present are also typically essential or implicated ATTRIBUTES and ASPECTS of persons, objects and activities, distinguishable PARTS of activities (cf. 'part-whole' and 'whole-part' relations) and INDIVIDUAL REPRESENTATIONS of a COLLECTIVE BODY. Finally the FRAME as a whole is always co-present. Successive relations exist between a STATE, ACTIVITY or a PROCESS and their PURPOSE and AIM, their CAUSE or PRECONDITIONS and their RESULT, their PREVIOUS and CONSECUTIVE STATES. Other successive relations exist between PERIODS, different PLACES and, last but not least, related FRAMES. Ideally any metonymy can be reduced to one of these types of conceptual contiguity.

Blank, A (1993) "Polysemie und semantische Relationen im Lexikon." In: Börner, W., Vogel, K. (eds) Wortschatz und Fremdsprachenerwerb . Bochum: AKS, 22-56.
Blank, A. (forthcoming) "Il senso di una semantica dei prototipi e dei frames: osservazioni decostruttive e ricostruttive." In: Lo Piparo, F. (ed): Linguaggio e cognizione. Rom: Bulzoni. Bonhomme, M (1987) Linguistique de la métonymie. Bern, etc. Lang.
Fillmore, C (1975) "An alternative to checklist theories of meanings". In: Proceedings of the 1st Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society . Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society, 121-131.
Fillmore, C (1977) "Scenes and frames semantics". In: Zampolli, A (ed) Linguistic structures processing. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 55-81.


Andreas Blank
Freie Universität Berlin
FB Neuere Fremdsprachliche Philologien WE2
Habelscwerdter Allee 45
D-14195 Berlin Germany


Conversion as a Conceptual Metonymy of Basic Event Schemata

René Dirven, Mechelen, Belgium

In our Cognitive English grammar (Dirven and Radden, in preparation ) we distinguish between five basic event schemata: (1) the action schema, (2) the experiencing and possession schemata, (3) the transfer schema (4) the location and motion schemata, and (5) the essive schema. Of thse five basic schemata, only three (1, 4, 5) serve as the conceptual framework in which the process of conversion takes place. Conversion is thereby seen and defined as the metonymical focussing on one participant in the event schema but conceptually involving the whole event. In the action schema it is the participants Patient (to fish), Instrument (to angle), and Manner (to fish peals, corals that are most frequently converted into new verbs, which always evoke the whole action schema. Thus, for instance, to fish pearls is to take pearls from the bottom of the sea like one takes or catches fish. In conversion we have to do with metonymy precisely because we always remain within one and the same conceptual domain, e.g. when fishing pearls we remain in the domain of catching things in the sea. But once this contiguous action domain involving a patient, an instrument and a typical manner of performing the action is suspended a new conceptual domian is mapped on to the first as in to fish for information or to fish for a man, we have to do with the conceptual strategy of metaphor.

The second basic event schema which is very productive in creating conversion is the motion schema, especially the variant comprising an Agent, a Patient and a Goal as in to bottle, to shelve, to bundle etc. The conceptual saliency of "goal" over "source" (and likewise of "goal" over "path" or "place") is so manifest that the question arises why it is precisely this type of participant, alongside with Patient, Instrument, and Manner, that gets converted so typically.

The same question hlds for the third basic event schema, i.e. the essive schema involving the particpant Class member as in to author or to volunteer. Thus from a cognitive point of view the most important questions are questions of motivation: why does conversion concetrate so strongly on only five participants in event schemata, and why not on all fifteen possibilities? Why, for instance, does conversion not tend to work on the Agent role? And why are Recipients or Possessors more or less excluded? Is this selectivity a result of sociocultural saliency or rather a question of linguistic preference?

René Dirven
Beekstraat 39, B-2800 Mechelem

Gerhard-Mercator Universität - GHS Duisburg
D-47048 Duisburg


Interactions Between Metonymy and Other Phenomena

Dann Fass, Simon Fraser University

The talk will be in four parts. First, some basic definitions will be given of metonymy and other phenomena: metaphor, literalness, anomaly, synesis, and indirect speech acts. Second, some examples will be given of interaction between metonymy and these other phenomena, particularly metaphor. Third, a computational model of metonymy and metaphor called the met* method will be outlined, together with some partially implemented extensions to it, and some properties of the model will be explained. Some of the main properties of the model are as follows. metonymies can occur in chains; (chains of) metonymy can co-occur with a single metaphor; a metonymy of itself comprises a preference violation plus a "metonymic inference"; a metaphor concists of a preference violation and a relevant analogy. Some context-sensitivity is built into the model. Although the model looks like a two-stage model, it need not be viewed as such because preference violations do not seem crucial to discriminating metonymy from metaphor in the model and because parts of the model can act in parallet. Fourth and finally, the operation of the model on some examples of metonymy in interaction with some of the other phenomena will be shown, notably metaphor.

Dann Fass
Burnaby, British Columbia
V5A 1S6, Canada


The Role of Metonymy in Conceptual Integration

Gilles Fauconnier, UCSD

Conceptual integration (or "blending") is an operation that plays a significant role in many areas of cognition, and which has uniform, systematic properties. A blend is the result of selective projection from inputs liniked by a cross-space maping, and it displays emergent structure. In this paper, I focus on the interesting rold of metonymy in constructing blends that optimally satisfy the principles of integration that Mark Turner and I have proposed. metonymy in the inputs is exploited in order to maximize topological projection, blend integration, unpacking and web connections. In addiction, there is good evidence for a 'metonymy projection constraint', which shortens metonymic distance when metonymically linked elemnts are projected to a blended space.

Gilles Fauconnier
University of California, San Diego
Cognitive Science Center
LaJolla, California 92093


Generalized Metonymy: The conceptualization of stupidity in German idiomatic expressions

Kurt Feyaerts and Dirk Geeraerts, University of Leuven

The purpose of this talk is to extrapolate the notion of generalized metaphor to generalized metonymy. By doing this, we want to emphasize the important role of metonymy as a conceputal mechanism for the structure of a particular target concept/domain.

To illustrate this, we shall look at different German idiomatic expressions, conventionalized as well as non-conventionalized ones, which refer to the same schematic terget concept: "stupidity". This common target structure can be characterzed schematically as a negatively valued norm deviance in the domain of intellectual capacities and the mind.

The analysis reveals recurrent conceptual patterns which transcend the level of individual expressions and which can be described in terms of generalized metonymic projections from different source domains/concepts to the target domain/concept. It appears that generalized metonymies exhibit similar properties as generalized metaphors: they occur at different schematic levels, they may overlap with each other and they are also grounded in general cognitive as well as cultural principles. What distinguishes them the most from metaphoric patterns is the variety of specific relationships that can exist between source and target structures; compare for instance cause-effect, container-contained, producer - produce etc. They all represent elaborations of the schematic metonymic stand-for relationship.

We will deonstrate these features on two conceputal metonymies that structure the target. They both elaborate the highly schematic metonymy according to which one salient property stands for another, less salient property. Thus, it shows that tupidity, being a highly abstract deviance, is commonly construed as 1)a social or 2) a physical deviance/deficienty.

Concerning "social deviance" as a source structure, we find an elaboration like "deviant (low) status", which in its turn is elaborated by concepts like "deviant (lowly ranked) profession" or "deviant (outgroup) origin". These last two concepts are instantiated in expressions like das ist noch unter deam Nachtwächter; er ist ein geistiger Untergefreiter and du bist wohl nicht von hier? respectively.

As for "physical deviance", we focus on the complex construal of stupidity as a deficiency of the head. It shows that mainly the head in its substructure of a container functions as a source for structuring the stupidity concept. this results in source concepts like "deviance of the head-as-a-container" and "deviant content of the head" with corresponding examples like überlaß das Denken den Pferden, di haben einen größeren Kopf or sie had wohl einen Schlag auf den Kopf bekommen on the one hand, and er hat Wasser im Kopf or sie ist gelehrt bs an den Hals, aber in den Kopf ist nichts gekommen on the other. What makes this source domain of physical peroperties especially interesting, is the complex structure which arises from th einteraction of the metonymic base structure ("physical for intellectual property") with an important metaphoric pattern on a lower level, where the property is construed as a possessible object (the so-called "object dual" of the Event Structure metaphor, Lakoff 1993). The fact that the concept of a deviant head and especially the elaboration that concerns its content are themselves to a alrge extent metonymically and metaphorically structured, allows us to conclude that they represent the central source concepts for this particular target.

Central to the notion of generalized metonymy is not just the identification of different source structures on different levels, but especially the nature of the relationship between source and target structure. It seems that in most of the cases the schematic stand-for relationship is elaborated by a relathionship of implication or correlation, according to which, for instance, stupidity is implied by a low status or a deviant content of the head. From th eperspective of the relationship of implication, there are still other metonymic relationships for this target structure to be mentioned, the important ones being cause-effect, and specific for generic. With this specific analysis, we hope to demonstrate the pervasiveness of generalized metonymy as a conceptual phenomenon. or

Kurt Feyaerts and Dirk Geeraerts
KU Leuven
Dept. Linguistiek
Blijde-Inkomststraat 21
B-3000 Leuven


Speaking and Thinking with Metonymy

Raymond W. Gibbs, Jnr., UCSC

Metonymy, like metaphor and certain other tropes, is not just a figure of speech, but reflects an important part of the way people ordinarily conceptualize of themselves, events, and the everyday world. My talk will explore some of the variety of ways that metonymy constrains speaking and thiking in everyday life and language. I will argue, among other things, that metonymy helps structure various aspects of inference generation in discourse, as well as people's understanding and use of contextual expressins, indirect speech acts, common gestures, and colloquial tautologies. Some guidelines on how best to empirically study metonymy in thought and language will also be provided.

Raymond W. Gibbs, Jnr.
Department of Psychology
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz


Metonymic Bridges in Modal Shifts

Louis Goossens, Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen

Although the details still need further study and clarification, we have a reasonable idea of the semantic changes that take place over long stretches of time in so-called modal verbs, more particularly as attested in the central modals of English. See e.g., Tellier (1962), and, with a cross-linguistic perspective, Bybee et al. (1994, chapters 6 and 7).

Those changes can be accounted for as involving (a) metaphorical shifts (Sweetser 1990: chapter 3) or, (b) as processes involving reanalysis or the conventionalization of implicatures (e.g. Traugott 1989). As far as I can see, detailed studies bring to light that the second type of account has greater explanatory value if we want to understand how these modal shifts actually took place.

In this paper I want to make two points.
(1) First, that account (b) boils down to the acceptance of metonymic bridges underlying the changes, and that if we go for a metaphorical interpretation we have in fact a "metaphtonymy", more precisely a metaphor for metonymy (cf. Goosens, 1990).
(2) Second, I will concentrate on th shift of the English modal must form a deontic to an epistemic (inferential) meaning. Bybee et al., who generally favour account (b), find no sufficient grounds to accept a metonymic bridge here, and decide that in this case we have to accept an explanation as metaphor (p.201). I will confront this decision with both synchronic and diachronic data that would seem to point to the contrary.

Bybee, Joan, Revere Perkins and William Pagliuca (1994) The Evolution of Grammar, Tense, Aspect, and Modality in the Languages of the World. The University of Chicago Press.
Goosens, Louis (1990) "Metaphtonomy: The interaction of metaphor and metonymy in expresions for linguistic action" Cognitive Linguistics 1:323-340. Also in Louis Goosens, Paul Pauwels, Brygida Rudzka-Ostyn, Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen and Johan Vanparys (1995) By word of mouth: Metaphor, metonymy and linguistic action in a cognitive perspective.Amsterdam, Philadelphi: Benjamins. 159-174
Sweetser, Eve (1990) From etymology to pragmatics. Cambridge University Press.
Tellier, André (1962) Les verbes perfecto-présentes et les Auxiliaries de mode en anglais ancien (VIIIe s. - XVIe s.). Paris:Klincksieck.
Traugott, Elisabeth Cross (1989) "On the rise of epistemic meaning: an example of subjectification". Language 65: 31-55.

Louise Goossens
UIA, Dept. Germaanse
Universiteitsplein 1
B-2610 Wilrijk
Fax: 0032-3-8202762


Metonymy as a Cognitive Principle in Onomastics

Olaf Jäkel, Hamburg

This paper is an attempt at briging together two linguistic disciplines which, though they have not been in close contact so far, could benefit from each other: Cognitive Linguistics and Onomastics.

While the notion of semantic motivation has always been a working principle in the field of Onomastics, it has only recently seen a revival wthin Cognitive linguistics. In that latest approach to natural language, metaphor and metonymy, construed as conceptual structures and cognitive processes, are recognized as probably the most important principles that motivate linguistic expressions.
Drawing on the Hamburg telephone directory of 1993/94 as corpus material, I investigate metonymic strategies and their explanatory power to account for the etymological meaning of German surnames. As a result I suggest a taxonomy of motivated names in which metonymical strategies range alongside the well known genealogical and professional naming principles. Utensil metonymy, property metonymy, and local metonymy appear as subtypes of metonymical principles.

In my paper I will focus on local metonymy, which shows a rich structure of subtypes that can be analyzed profitably from a cognitive linguistic perspective. As a final point, the evidence of this onomastic investigation is brought to bear on the controversial discussion of the role of metonymy currently taking place among cognitive linguistics.

Olaf Jäkel
Universität Hamburg
Seminar für Englische Sprache und Kultur
Von-Melle-Park 6
D-20146 Hamburg


Frame and Contiguity: On the Cognitive Basis of Metonymy and Certain Types of Word Formation

Peter Koch, FU Berlin

When we try to seize the mechanism of metonymy, it appears to be useful to integrate five different traditional and non-traditional paradigms of "cognitive" research (in the broadest sense):
- the associationist paradigm, based on similarity/contrast and contiguity (from Aristotle onwards);
- gestalt theory (Wertheimer, Köhler et al.);
- recent frame theory (Fillmore, Minsky et al.);
- recent prototype theory (Rosch et al.);
- the pragmatic strengthening theory (König, Traugott).
In my view, metonymies are based on frames, that constitute conceptual gestalts. The links between elements of a given frame are what we call contiguity relations. Consider for instance the marriage frame. Marriage (i.e. the relation between married persons) is/was considered the prerequisite for motherhood; its beginning is normally marked by a wedding ceremony. We all know that the concomitance of these three elements is by no means compulsory, but in certain cultures, it is/was regarded as prototypical.

Due to these contiguity relations, a given lexeme denoting one element of the frame may happen to denote metonymically another element of the same frame:
(1) Lat. matrimonium (initially) 'motherhood' > 'marriage'
(2) Fr. mariage 'marriage' > 'wedding'
According to the pragmatic strengthening theory, processes of this kind have been described as conventionalization of conversational implicatures. Now, the gestalt principle underlying such processes is a figure-ground effect:
(ad 1) motherhood = figure > ground; marriage = ground > figure
(ad 2) marriage = figure > ground; wedding = ground > figure

Contiguities within frames enable us to explain not only metonymies, but also particular types of word formation. Consider the FRUIT - TREE frame. In Italian, we find the following metonymy:
(3) It. limone 'lemon' > 'lemon tree'
In Spanish and English, on the other hand, we have word formations like:
(4) Span. limón 'lemon' > limonero 'lemon tree'
(5) Engl. lemon > lemon tree
Obviously, the derivation (4) as well as the composition (5) denote a conceptual shift along the contiguity axis that is also relevant for (3). In other words: metonymies, certain derivations, and certain compositions differ on the lexical level, but have a common cognitive base.


Freie Universität Berlin
FB Neuere Fremdsprachliche Philologien WE 2
Habelschwerdter Allee 45
D-14195 Berlin


Towards a Theory of Metonymy

Zoltán Kövecses, ELTE and Günter Radden, Hamburg

We assume that metonymy is essentially a conceptual phenomenon and that it can best be accounted for within a framework of idealized cognitive models. ICMs provide the range of possible conceptual relationships of "contiguity" which may lead to metonymy. Metonymy is understood to be a conceptual mapping within the same ICM by which one conceptual entity, the target, is evoked by another conceptual entity, the vehicle. Metonymic mappings may either build upon the relationship between an ICM as a whole and its part(s) or the relationship between parts of an ICM. All types of metonymy may thus be said to involve either a whole/part or a part/part relationship. Whole/part relationships are found in the following ICMs: whole and part ICM, constitution ICM, containment ICM, category and member(s) ICM, category and property(ies) ICM and complex event ICM. Relationships between parts typically characterize the following ICMs: action ICM, causation ICM, perception ICM, possession ICM, control ICM, correlation ICM and the linguistic sign ICM.

In principle, either of the two conceptual entities related may stand for the other, i.e., unlike metaphor, metonymy is basically a reversible process. There are, however, cognitive principles which govern the selection of a preferred vehicle. These natural principles relate to the following four areas: clarity, gestalt perception, human concern and experience, and salience. The more cognitive principles apply in a given case the more motivated is the metonymy. Highly motivated, or "default", metonymies tend to escape our awareness. For social, stylistic or communicative purposes, the cognitive principles may be overridden. Such "nondefault" metonymies are typically found in expressions of politeness, euphemism, taboo, jargon, slang or poetry.

Department of American Studies
Eötvös Loránd University
H-1146 Budapest
Ajtosi Dürer sor 19-21

Universität Hamburg
Seminar für Englische Sprache und Kultur
Von-Melle-Park 6
D-20146 Hamburg


Valuation and Metonymy

Thomas P. Krzeszowski, Warsaw

Valuation is defined as assigning a value to a bearer. Values may be assigned to concepts, classes of entities (categories) and individual specimens of categories. Metonymy is involved in valuation in at least two ways:
1. In everyday usage the words "valuation" or "evaluation" are used in an extended sense whereby values can be assigned to concrete material objects. People say such things as This painting is very valuable. This ring is worth £5,000. I attach a great value to this fountain pen because it used to belong to my grandfather,etc. Such "valuations" create an impression that various physical objects somehow bear or even contain some values and that these values are materially and objectively present in the corresponding physical objects. This is due to such conceptual metaphors as the generic metaphor MENTAL REALITY IS PHYSICAL REALITY and one of its more specific instantiations VALUES ARE MATERIAL OBJECTS or even VALUES ARE PRICE TAGS. Coherent with these instantiations are such linguistic expressions as to attach value to something and to place/put/set value on something. The familiar metonymy CONTAINER FOR ITS CONTENTS interacts with these metaphors and explains why it is possible to understand the value of a given object as being in the object itself rather than as being attached to it.
2. Linguistic expressions of valuations (usually adjectives) are based on the totum pro parte metonymies, whereby what is valued is always some aspect of an evaluated entity rather than the whole entity designated by a given expression. For example, different aspects of the concept designated by the word "Peter" are valuated in such sentences as Peter is wise and Peter is tall. The paper demonstrates that the evaluated aspect is usually predictable from the meaning of the respective evaluative word. These predictions are based on the hierarchy of values as derived from the Great Chain of Being.

University of Warsaw
Institute of Applied Linguistics
ul. Browarna 8/10
00-311 Warszawa, Poland
fax (048-22) 26-13-91

'Mummy, I like being a sandwich': Metonymy in Language Acquisition

Brigtte Nerlich and Zazie Todd, Nottingham

The study of metonymy has a very long tradition. In the 4th century BC Democritus offered four arguments (with four specially coined names) in favour of arbitrariness as against the naturalness of signs: (a) 'homonymy' or 'polysemy,' i.e., the same sequence of phonemes may be associated with two or more unrelated meanings; (b) 'polyonymy' or 'isorrophy,' i.e., the existence of synonyms; (c) 'metonymy,' i.e., the fact that words and meanings change; (d) 'nonymy,' i.e. the non-existence of single words for simple or familiar ideas.
Leaving out about 2500 years of rhetorical studies, we now jump to Gaston Esnault, who, coming back to Democritus, wrote in 1925 that what distinguishes metonymy from metaphor (based on transfer) and synecdoche (based on annexation), is the fact that metonymy is based on a change in denomination. He then provides a classification of 38 types of metonymy, which, in another talk one could compare to those proposed by Stern, Lakoff & Johnson, Norrick, Fass and Kövecses & Radden. What is more important in the context of this talk is Esnault's second characterisation of metonymy. Unlike classical rhetoricians, Esnault stresses that "la métonymie n'est pas un changement de nom imposé à une chose, c'est une relation objective vue en raccourcie". This definition of metonymy as a conceptual and verbal shortcut through an objective relation, is central for our understanding of how children use metonymy. Before coming to our study of the use of metonymical expressions by children, let us make two important distinctions: (1) between metonymies based on necessity (which are accounted for in the already existing literature on overextension, for example) and the creative use of metonymy; (2) between metonymy-understanding and metonymy-production.

In our talk we would like to compare the mechanisms and types of metonymies involved in what we call 'compelled metonymical overextensions' on the one hand and 'creative metonymical shrinking' on the other, and finish off with some remarks about the understanding of conventional metonymies by children.


Brigitte Nerlich
Department of Psychology,
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham NG7 2RD,

Zazie Todd
Department of Psychology
University of Leicester


Recontextualisation of metonymy: the case of Pilate's earring in Morrison's Song of Solomon.

Anne Pankhurst, University of Edinburgh

Metonymic referentiality in narrative fiction is often associated with the development of an interface between reader and writer. The effects achieved by referring to more than one concept or experience enable the reader to activate cognitive strategies, which facilitate access to a hitherto unknown world. When a metonymic term or conceptualisation is recontextualised in different episodes of a narrative, the reader is able to select new interpretations consonant with the writer's intentions, as the metonymic domain expands or contracts.
Morrison's novel Song of Solomon (1977) narrates the life of a poor black woman in the USA in the middle of this century. Scene, plot and characters are opaque to readers unfamiliar with the social and ethnic background. Morrison uses various means to ensure credibility, among them recurring references to an earring worn by the central character. Metonymy thus becomes a powerful means of assisting the interpretation of literary discourse.


University of Edinburgh,
Department of Applied Linguistics,
14 Buccleuch Place,
Edinburgh EH8 9LN UK


The Potentiality-for-Actuality Metonymy in English and Hungarian

Klaus-Uwe Panther, Hamburg, and Linda Thornburg, ELTE

In accordance with recent approaches to semantics, we assume that lexical meaning is fruitfully described in terms of scenarios consisting of parts which can bear metonymic relations to each other and the whole of the scenario. One of the most pervasive conceptual metonymies in English is the Potentiality-for-Actuality metonymy. This metonymy is evident in such hedged performatives as I can promise that I won't be lateor in statements about perceptions like I can see the ocean from my window. In English an utterance like I can promise ... usually conveys an actual promise despite the modal hedge can. In this example, as in many other, the ability or legitimization to perform a linguistic action, which is part of the speech act scenario, metonymically stands for the linguistic action per se. Similarly, utterances about sense perceptions frequently contain the modals can/could although such sentences are used to represent actually occurring perceptions. In this case then, the disposition/ability for the sense perception metonymically stands for the sense perception itself.

The scenario has allowed us to determine the distribution of some metonymic relations holding in various semantic and pragmatic domains in English as well as to ground them in more general metonymic principles (cf. Thornburg & Panther forthcoming). A natural extension of this approach is to make cross-linguistic comparisons. Particularly intriguing is a comparison with Hungarian, a non-Indo-European language, which reveals interesting cross-linguistic contrasts. In this talk, we focus on the operation of the Potentiality-for-Actuality metonymy in the following conceptual domains: (1) sense perceptions, (2) mental states and processes, (3) hedged performatives, (4) indirect speech acts (directives, commissives, and imprecations), (5) (extralinguistic) actions, (6) character dispositions, and (7) acquired skills. We will show that the Potentiality-for-Actuality metonymy is more restricted in Hungarian than in English and that this fact is not only linguistically and conceptually interesting but has pedagogical implications as well.

Universität Hamburg
Seminar für Englische Sprache und Kultur
Von-Melle-Park 6
D-20146 Hamburg

Eötvös Loránd University
Department of American Studies
Ajtósi Dürer sor 19-21
H-1146 Budapest


Putting Metonymy in its Place

Paul Pauwels, K.V.H.Antwerp

Saying that metonymy has not received attention would be an exaggeration. Lakoff and Johnson (1980), who put metaphor on the map in a big way, also devote a chapter to metonymy. They characterize metonymy in contrast to metaphor, as "primarily referential", but impute to it similar purposes of enhancing understanding, a similar systematicity, and a similar cognitive status. As Taylor (1989:122) stated, "metonymy has received relatively little discussion (at least, in comparison with metaphor)". In his brief account he seems to be using a much broader notion of metonymy, which he illustrates with examples like window (open vs break) and door (close vs stand in). Croft (1993) also recognizes the similarity between such processes and metonymy proper, which he describes in terms of "domain highlighting". However, he does not equate metonymy with that process; in some cases, metonymies are characterized by a "shift in domain prominence". Where Lakoff and Johnson were mainly interested in highlighting the systematicity of metonymy to establish its cognitive status, and Taylor and certainly Croft attempted a more finegrained analysis of the process of metonymy, Goossens (1990, 1995b,c) takes a different approach. On the basis of corpus material, he investigates the incidence of metonymy, its role in diachronic meaning extension, and its relationship to metaphor in actual usage.
The present investigation is also corpus-based, using a corpus of utterances containing the four related verbs put, set, lay and place. Following Goossens, we will investigate the incidence and role of metonymy in the four subcorpora and the similarities and differences in the extension patterns of the four verbs. Since, moreover, the corpus is of utterances in context, we can gain some insight into the motivation for different metonymies. Elsewhere (Pauwels and Simon-Vandenbergen 1993, 1995) we have shown that a lot of metaphors carry value judgements - which might actually motivate them. Is there a similar motivation for metonymy? What is the "salience" of the highlighted element (Croft/Taylor) due to? Finally, this paper wants to return to the issue of domain structure and domain matrixes. Croft's distinction between "mapping", "highlighting" and "prominence shifting" seems to rely exclusively on the perception of the relation between domains as either fully distinct, or inherently related but distinguishable, or indistinguishable; or on a conception of domain boundaries ranging from fully excluding and highly salient to fully included and blurred.


Katholieke Vlaamse Hogeschool
St. Andriesstraat 2
B-2000 Antwerpen


Representation, Metonymies and their Exploitation in Multi-agent Tasks *)

Hannes Rieser, Bielefeld University

Nunberg (1995) shows that predicate transfer (metonymy) is tied up with all levels of grammar which have an interface to semantics. He explains predicate transfer via a mapping from properties into properties, triggered by a salient transfer function. Various metonymical relations like "owner - things owned" or "producer - product" can be captured in this way. Nunbergian explanations do not, however, easily generalize to metonymies involving representations (maps, statues, models etc.). In these cases, Nunbergs salient transfer function needs to be identified with a representation relation, the properties of which are ill understood. The metonymies discussed in this talk can be taken as pairs, consisting of an NL-expression, and a representation relation defined on things represented and a representing object. The empirical properties of representation relations are discussed with respect to a large corpus of data (videos, transcripts, audiotapes, eye-tracker-studies) based on the construction of a toy-airplane. It is shown that we have different options for building up a theory of metonymy involving representation relations, since we can model the relation involved in different ways. These ways are linked up with (A) the specification of the things represented and (B) the kind of relation used.
Concerning (A) there are various choice points for the set of objects presented. Depending upon ones favourite methodology they can be (a) stereotypes, (b) prototypes, (c) Fregean senses, (d) Wittgensteinian states of affairs, (e) situation types or simply (f) objects. Option (f) is more closely investigated.
Decisions concerning (B) will, of course, depend upon those taken with respect to (A). We can view representation relations (a) as homomorphic mappings (following Palmer (1978)) or (b) as sequences of morphisms, (c) as suitably defined empirical relations preserving information to some extent, (d) as constraints involving depicted situations and situations depicting or (e) as objects having both, an analogical as well as a Fregean structure.
(A) and (B) yield branch points for theories of different explanatory power. Arguments for choices concerning (B) are presented. Stress is laid upon the grain of depictional information and the effects of depicting objects upon objects depicted. It is shown, that mappings go in both directions, from objects represented to representing object and vice versa.
In the data, metonymies are used for naming parts, planning and testing, fixing of agents' perspectives and agents' coordination. A prototypical case is shown, where a representation relation determines an intrinsic front-back- order thereby providing an agent's perspective per default.

*) I am indebted to talks of Chr. Habel's on representation given on various occasions and to many discussions with Josef Meyer-Fujara.

Barwise (1989), Barwise & Etchemendy (1995), Barwise & Seligman (1992, ms), Biederman (1987, 1993), Blutner (1995), Doelling (1995), Finke (1989), Habel (1996), Habel, Pribbenow & Simmons (1995), Heydrich & Rieser (1995), Indurkhya (1992), Johnson-Laird & Miller (1979), Kosslyn (1994), D. Lewis (1969), Nunberg (1979, 1995), Palmer (1978), Pylyshyn (1975), Rieser (1996), Sloman (1971, 1975, 1995), Way (1991), Wittgenstein (1921).

Email: rieser@LILI.Uni-Bielefeld.DE

Bielefeld University
& SFB 360, "Situierte Kuenstliche Kommunikatoren"


On Distinguishing Synecdoche from Metonymy

Ken-ichi Seto, Osaka City University (Japan)

Despite the current interest in metonymy, the essential nature of the term is not determined yet. There are two reasons for this, both of which are related to the question of how to systematically distinguish synecdoche from metonymy. One reason is concerned with the traditional view that synecdoche is a specific type, i.e., the part-for-whole (and, less frequently, the whole-for-part) variety, of metonymy. The problem here is that little notice has been taken of the ambiguity of the terms of whole and part. Both can be used either taxonomically or partonomically. However, to be precise, taxonomy is a kind-of relation (ex. A ham sandwich is a kind of food) while partonomy is a part-of relation (ex. A hand is a part of the body), the former applying to a categorical relation and the latter typically to a physical relation. These two different classificatory systems should not coexist in one and the same term, synecdoche, hence not in its apparent parent term, metonymy, either. The second reason is concerned with another bipolar distionction, wider in scope and deeper in implication than the pair of taxonomy and partonomy. One axis is what may be referred to as E-relation, a relation based on spatio-temporal contiguity between an entity and another in the (real) world (Partonomy is an example of E-relation.); the other is what may be referred to as C-relation, a relation based on semantic inclusion between a more comprehensive category and a less comprehensive one (Taxonomy exhausts C-relation). This paper, arguing for the clear-cut distinction between E-relation and C-relation, concludes that synecdoche, which is C-related, should be independent of metonymy, which is E-related.

Osaka City University,
Faculty of Literature,
3-3-138 Sugimotocho,
Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka
Japan 558
FAX (81)6605 2357


Colorful Metonomies

Marjolijn Verspoor,University of Groningen

Color terms have been a major area of interest in Cognitive Linguistics from the very beginning. Color is also the subject of this paper, but examined from a different perspective. I will look at the way color terms, especially the word blue, are used in the English language. A detailed analysis of expressions such as to blue one's money, out of the blue, once in a blue moon, blue laws, blue movies, blue print, blue stocking, blue collar worker, boys in blue, blue-eyed boy and so on will show that meaning extensions of color terms are "colorful" in that they are "full of variety or interest." For one thing, the analysis will show that metonomic links in color terms are not only abundant but also recursive.

Geeraerts, Dirk, Stefan Grondelaers, Peter Bakema (1994) The Structure of Lexical Variation: Meaning, Naming, and Context. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter
Lakoff, George (1987) Women, Fire and Dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. Chicago/London: UCP
Taylor, John R. (1989) Linguistic Categorization: Prototypes in Linguistic Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press
Various etymological and idiomatic dictionaries


English Department
Postbus 716
9700AS Groningen
fax: + 31-50-3635821


Opposition as a Metonymic Principle

Christian Voßhagen, Hamburg

The paper is going to discuss the notion that many forms of language use in which something is said to imply its opposite can be regarded as manifestations of a general conceptual metonymic relation. It will discuss the conceptions of domain and of conceptual contiguity with regard to opposition, and it will suggest descriptions of linguistic phenomena on the semantic and the pragmatic plane which result from this view.
Two perceptual-cognitive factors, salience and two-valued orientation, will be suggested which seem to underlie such metonymic processes on the lexical and pragmatic level and in rhetorical figures.


Universität Hamburg
Seminar für Englische Sprache und Kultur
Von-Melle-Park 6
D-20146 Hamburg


Metonymic Relations as a Window to Grammatical Structure: Evidence from French Verb Semantics

Richard Waltereit, Free University of Berlin

Metonymies are restricted not only by conceptual factors but also by grammatical ones. This paper examines the "suitability" of different grammatical relations (subject, direct object, etc) for metonymy. It will be argued that the direct object fits best the metonymic transfer. Evidence for this claim will be presented from French, but it holds also for many other European languages.
Metonymies with respect to grammatical relations occur on two levels of description which should be distinguished carefully: First, the level of semantically contiguous thematic roles of one (polysemic) verb, e.g. risquer sa carrière / risquer une demande 'to risk one's career / to risk a question' (contiguity of the thematic roles the endangered entity and the dangerous entity). The second level is that of an individual participant's insertion into a given thematic role (e.g. le 53 est rentré'No. 53 (= the hotel guest occupying room 53) is back': the noun phrase le 53 metonymically fills the subject role of rentrer 'to come back').
Concerning the role level, it will be shown that metonymy-based polysemies of the kind in question occur nearly always on the direct object if there is one, otherwise on the subject. The primacy of the direct object can therefore clearly be demonstrated. On the insertional level, any participant can of course be affected by a metonymic shift, but also on this level the direct object has several "privileges". In particular, certain types of construction allow contiguity-based reference for the direct object but less naturally or not at all for other grammatical relations. Among these are reflexive cliticization (elle s'économise 'she saves her forces (lit. herself)') and inalienable possession (il ferme les yeux 'he closes his (lit. the) eyes').
In my conclusion I will try to support the inductive generalizations concerning the direct object by a deductive explanation.


FU Berlin
Institut fuer Romanische Philologie
Habelschwerdter Allee 45
D-14195 Berlin


No More Ham Sandwiches, Please

Beatrice Warren, Stockholm University

According to Halliday (1985), we have a case of metonymy when "a word is used for something related to that which it usually refers to; for example", eye, skirt, breathe in

Keep your eye on the ball [gaze]
He's always chasing skirts [girls]
It won't happen while I still breathe [live]

There is a difference between the first two examples above, on the one hand, and the last one, on the other, in that the former are literally not true, whereas the latter is. This difference is important since it implies that breathe expresses two senses simultaneously. For this reason, some (although far from all) linguists would not accept that breathe in the example above exemplifies metonymy, but suggest that it is a case of permutation (Stern), implication (Warren) or inference (Bybee), to mention a few alternative terms.
Skirt in the example above is not an altogether indisputable example of metonymy either in that - being a pars-pro-toto expression - it must be considered a case of synecdoche. Although most modern linguists consider synecdoche a kind of metonymy, not all do.
The above illustrates the lack of consensus among linguists as to what metonymy is. Since the claims I wish to make in my presentation presuppose a particular definition, I will start by stating this definition, which is:
Metonymy represents a non-literal use of a word or phrase made possible since there is some obvious link between the referent of the mentioned word (or phrase) and the intended referent, which is a referent clearly appropriate in the context at hand.

Granted this definition, I will make the following two suggestions:
(i) Metonymic links are not quite as ad hoc as the much quoted example The ham sandwich wants his check suggests, but there is a limited set of default relations, which are of great linguistic relevance, since they are not restricted to metonymy, but are part of a set of unexpressed relations that are important in the semantics of phrases and sentences.
(ii) The basic difference between metonymy and metaphor is that the interpretation of metonyms involves retrieving a relation, whereas the interpretation of a metaphor involves retrieving at least one feature shared by the conventional and intended referents. This means that even a resemblance relation can be metonymic. Consider: he has his father's eyes. His father's eyes I will consider a metonym, since we can interpret this phrase without knowing in what respect the son's eyes resemble his father's.
From this basic difference follows other important differences between metonymy and metaphor.


Department of English
Stockholm University


Zazie Todd
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