Edited By Małgorzata Fabiszak, Karolina Krawczak and Katarzyna Rokoszewska
A Few Remarks on the Distinction between Metaphor, Metonymy, and Synecdoche
The general aim of this article is to point to certain problems related to the distinction between metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche. First, this article discusses various points of difference between metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche proposed in the cognitive linguistic literature. It shows that there is no agreement among cognitive linguists on certain points of difference (e.g., on how broadly the concept of contiguity should be understood). Secondly, this article argues that since cognitive domains are understood as “encyclopedic” domains and since they normally vary in breadth from speaker to speaker, the classification of a given linguistic expression as metaphoric, metonymic, or synecdochic based on the one- and two-domain principle may only be possible from an individual (subjective) perspective. Finally, this article points to yet another obstacle in the classification of a given linguistic expression, i.e. to the fact that metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche frequently operate together.
1. Introduction – Metaphor, Metonymy, and Synecdoche
To date numerous different classifications of tropes have been proposed, in which their number ranges from as few as two to as many as thirty. In antiquity (in the work of Aristotle), metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche were not strictly differentiated (see Figure 1).1, 2 ← 43 | 44 →
Figure 1: Figures of speech – antiquity (Nerlich & Clarke 1999: 198).
In classical rhetoric three (sometimes four) main tropes were distinguished (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and sometimes irony) (see Figure 2).3
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