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THE TRUMPET PUT ME IN A BAD MOOD: SOME REMARKS ON THE MECHANISM OF METONYMY IN CURRENT LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS

Introduction

The notion of metonymy, gaining its name from two Greek particles, i.e.

meta – ‘after’, ‘later’ and ònyma/ònoma – ‘name’, ‘word’ first appeared in the

antiquity, where it was considered one of the four figures of speech, or rhetorical

tropes, together with metaphor, synecdoche and irony. Today metonymy is

frequently discussed in connection with metaphor, as two closely connected

phenomena, whereas synecdoche, i.e. ‘part for the whole’ – pars pro toto

relation, is generally subsumed within the notion of metonymy. In accordance

with the classical, rhetorical approach metonymy is broadly defined as a device

in which the name of one entity stands for another one by association of ideas

(cf. Rayevska 1979, Ullmann 1957). The assumptions characteristic for the

rhetorical approach are as follows:

1) metonymy is a figure of speech, thus a matter of literary, ornamental

language;

2) metonymy relies on linguistic substitution, i.e. substitution of names;

3) metonymy is a ‘stand for’ relationship between two words, based on

physical contiguity or proximity of the entities denoted;

4) contiguity is understood in a broad sense and comprises spatial

contact, temporal proximity, casual relations, part-whole relations, etc.

In present-day linguistic analysis, after years of a relative neglect, one may

speak of a certain revival of interest in the study of metonymy. In the last decade of

the 20th century metonymy attracted the interest of cognitive semanticists, who

have gone far beyond the traditional view in several ways. With this in mind, the

aim set to this paper is to reconsider the notion of metonymy in linguistics, with

due attention to a selection of current views and approaches. Nevertheless, before

relevant issues are presented, a brief explanation of terminology introduced to

account for the novel view seems indispensable. The basic notion in discussing

both the mechanisms of metonymy and metaphor in cognitive semantics is the

notion of domain, frequently referred to as the Idealized Cognitive Model

(henceforth: ICM). However, despite the central role of these terms in the

cognitivist debate, their definition remains fairly ambiguous. In general, domains

are to be understood as coherent regions of human conceptual space, being

organisational units of the encyclopaedic knowledge about a concept. To be more

specific, Croft and Cruse (2004:15) provide a more precise definition, based on the

assumptions made by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and Langacker (1987), defining

domain as a semantic structure that functions as the base for at least one concept

profile, typically many profiles. A profile and a base are to be understood as parts

of a concept, in such a way that the base presupposes the existence of any profile

and is, consequently, prerequisite for its conceptualisation. In cognitivist

discussion, the term domain is often further qualified by means of such adjectives



as cognitive or conceptual (e.g. Kleparski 1997). In addition, apart from the terms

domain or ICM, the terms frame (e.g. Papafragou 1996, Koch 2004) or schema

(Lakoff and Turner 1989) are currently employed to account for more or less

similar mental constructs. Another two terms frequently appearing in the

discussion of metonymies from the cognitive viewpoint are a vehicle (or source)

and target. The notion of vehicle is understood as an entity initiating the

metonymic process, whereas the concept of target stands for the entity aimed at by

means of metonymy.


Date: 2015-02-16; view: 853


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