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Metaphor and Metonymy

In a Cognitive Linguistic view, metaphors are defined as understanding one kind of experience in terms of another kind of experience. They are fundamental to our understanding of (typically) abstract concepts in terms of (typically) more concrete types of experience and pervasive in both thought and language (Lakoff and Johnson 1980; 1999). Another ubiquitous conceptual process is metonymy. Metonymy is different from metaphor in that the mental access takes place within the same domain, the relationship between the two conceptual entities being one of contiguity, whereas metaphors are based on perceived similarities between two different domains. Kövesces and Radden (1998) provide a detailed exploration of types of metonymy and identify three generic relationships for metonymy: part-for-whole; whole-for part; part-for-part.

One example of current research in conceptual metaphor theory is that conducted by Per Boström. The purpose of his dissertation is to investigate the metaphorization of romantic love in spoken Swedish. The project focuses on the dynamic aspects of metaphorization, and the context effects are taken into serious consideration, in line with an expanded version of embodiment. Which metaphors can be identified in group conversation about romantic love? Is there systematicity involved? Can metaphor scenarios and/or cultural models be reconstructed from the conversational data? Is there a typical way of talking about romantic love in Swedish? Are the participants' age-related experiences shown in the metaphorization?

The research done by Marlene Johansson Falck is another example of metaphor research within CogLing UmU. Her research concerns the relationship between metaphorical language and embodied cognition. She has focussed on how technological inventions and discoveries have helped people structure language and thought in metaphorical ways (Johansson Falck 2005), and on the ways in which people's experiences of real world artifacts such as paths, roads, ways, bridges, tunnels, and towers have influenced the usage patterns of metaphorical and non-metaphorical language (e.g. Johansson Falck 2010, 2012, 2013, Johansson Falck and Gibbs 2012). Her research into the usage patterns of the English prepositions in and on, and their Swedish equivalents i and på focusses on how points in TIME are construed in both English and Swedish (Johansson Falck, 2016). Johansson Falck (2017) deals with the usage patterns of abstract instances of the prepositions in and on.

Metaphors are not only the fundamental aspects of thought, but are also features of literary texts that activate emotional simulations. Writers use metaphors for descriptions and actions to transfer the reader into the story-world they create. Metaphors in literature can be conventional as well as novel and idiosyncratic, which suggests various approaches and theories for their identification, understanding and use. Typical examples of studies of metaphor in literature deal with the role of metaphor in the style of the character or the narrator (Steen and Gibbs 2004: 351) and the impact of cognitive metaphor theory to narrative fiction (Fludernik 2011, Semino 2002).

Elena Glotova's work concerns the role of metaphor in illness narratives. Subjective experiences of physical discomfort, pain, depression and disability are frequently verbalized and conceptualized through the use of metaphor (Kövecses 2000). What metaphorical language is used in the narratives about the experience of work stress, burnout and anxiety? In what way does metaphor help us to understand the complex patterns of emotions in literature? How does metaphor channel a sensory experience for which there is no name? Glotova addresses the relationship of metaphor to different kinds of poetry and prose to make sense of metaphorically used words and expressions and the meanings they create and activate in fictional contexts of illness.

Anders Steinvall's research on colour terms has shown the pervasive nature of metonymy in the extension of the semantic meaning of such terms. Almost all figurative extensions of colour terms can be shown to rely on metonymy. This process is also central to the formation of new colour terms, when colour terms typically are derived from the names of substances. Two aspects explored in Steinvall's later research are the "vulnerability" of part-for-part mappings in terms of recoverability (for example, purple standing for successful and elaborate) and the use of colour specificity in order to highlight attributes through a part-for part process (for example, saffron not only representing a certain shade of yellowish orange but also highlighting aspects of exoticness).

Works Cited

Fludernik, Monika, ed. 2011. Beyond cognitive metaphor theory: perspectives on literary metaphor", 1.1 (2012): 12-15.

Johansson Falck, M. (2005). Technology, language and thought: extensions of meaning in the English lexicon.

Johansson Falck, M. (2010). Are metaphorical paths and roads ever paved?: corpus analysis of real and imagined journeys. Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 8(1), 93-122.

Johansson Falck, M. (2012). From perception of spatial artefacts to metaphorical meaning.

Johansson Falck, M. (2013). Narrow paths, difficult roads, and long ways: Travel through space and metaphorical meaning.

Johansson Falck, M. (2016). What trajectors reveal about TIME metaphors: Analysis of English and Swedish. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 21(1), 28-47.

Johansson Falck, M. (2017). Embodied motivations for abstract in and on constructions. In Constructing Families of Constructions : Analytical perspectives and theoretical challenges. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Johansson Falck, M., & Gibbs, R. W. (2012). Embodied motivations for metaphorical meanings. Cognitive Linguistics, 23(2), 251-272. doi:10.1515/cog-2012-0008

Kövecses, Zoltán. Metaphor and Emotion: Language, Culture, and Body in Human Feeling. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Semino, Elena. "A Cognitive Stylistic Approach to Mind Style in Narrative Fiction." Cognitive Stylistics: Language and Cognition in Text Analysis, Benjamins, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2002, pp. 95–122. Linguistic Approaches to Literature.

Steen, Gerard, and Gibbs, Raymond Jr. "Questions About Metaphor in Literature." European Journal of English Studies, vol. 8, no. 3, 2004, pp. 337–54.