On constructivization – a few remarks on the role of metonymy in grammar
Abstract The paper explores the role of conceptual and constructional metonymy in the origins of language. It is argued that the first stage in the development of language, i.e. the stage of Proto-Language was a form of one- and two-word communication relying crucially on the ability to form associations between different participants and relations between them which could be accessed by means of designating single participants or relations alone. I will try to show that that such “non-sentential” forms of communication are also common in modern languages, like Polish and English. Moreover, some relics of those early forms of communication have become parts of entrenched grammatical constructions. There are two basic variants of this general process. In the first variant one or more participants of a relation are ellipsed and accessed metonymically by means of an expression designating either the relation alone or the relation and some of its other participants. In the other variant of this non-sentential communication, it is the constituents designating only single participants of the whole event which metonymically stand for the whole proposition. Finally, it is shown that the same basically metonymic mechanism is instrumental in the formation of dependent monoclausal constructions, which designate complex relations between more than one proposition, such as monoclausal if-only constructions.