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Metonymy & Metaphor: A Practical Deconstruction John Barnden School of Computer Science University of Birmingham, UK Collaborators in this work: Sheila.

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Presentation on theme: "Metonymy & Metaphor: A Practical Deconstruction John Barnden School of Computer Science University of Birmingham, UK Collaborators in this work: Sheila."— Presentation transcript:

1 Metonymy & Metaphor: A Practical Deconstruction John Barnden School of Computer Science University of Birmingham, UK Collaborators in this work: Sheila Glasbey, Mark Lee, Alan Wallington From research supported by EPSRC, ESRC & DTI

2 Preface uAn ongoing conceptual analysis... umotivated by experiences in developing the ATT- Meta reasoning system for metaphor understanding [refs. on request]

3 Plan of Rest of Talk uBackground and motivation. uDifficulties in distinguishing metaphor and metonymy, and possible “dimensions” along which metaphor and metonymy may differ. uConclusion: M&M as different rough, intersecting “clouds” within the space defined by those dimensions. uNB: distinction difficulty is not novel (broadly), but we extend the complaints and make an explicit and radical move to a multi-dimension account.

4 Metaphor and Metonymy uChambers Dictionary, New Ninth Edition: l Metaphor: a figure of speech by which a thing [TARGET] is spoken of as being that which it only resembles [SOURCE]. l Metonymy: the use of the name of [SOURCE] a single aspect of or adjunct to a thing as a way of referring to the thing itself [TARGET]. [with some slight paraphrase] uMetaphor examples: l Deep in the recesses of her mind, Anne believed that … l Mike is a tiger. uMetonymy examples: l Mary played Bach. l Pete drank three bottles. l England won the match.

5 Difficulties uMore definitions/accounts than researchers! uAnd fewer definitions than researchers!! uVagueness (and sometimes metaphoricity!) of and complications in such terms as “thing”, “name,” “spoken of as being”, “resembles”, “aspect”, “adjunct”, “referring” in definitions above … … and of terms such as “domain” and “mapping” used in other definitions/accounts. uDifferences of opinion about the degree to which metaphor & metonymy are a matter of: language versus thought; syntax versus semantics versus pragmatics; etc.

6 Difficulties, contd. uAny metaphor in which the mappings are identity mappings (as in simple feature-transfer accounts, or the Glucksberg categorization account that finds a common category) can be viewed as just metonymic steps to the mapped items (cf. Ricoeur 1977). uReferential metaphor [many authors]: referential use of metaphorical mapping links. The cream puff lost the match. This could be casts as metonymic use of metaphorical links. Doesn’t of itself preclude a distinctly metaphorical residue.

7 Similarity versus Contiguity uTypically (perhaps), metaphor rests on similarity (“resembles” above) in some way whereas metonymy rests on contiguity (“adjuncts” above). But… uSlipperiness of notions of similarity and contiguity: e.g., Chiappe (1998), Cooper (1986), Dirven (2002), Riemer (2002). uMetaphor as creating similarity (e.g., Indurkhya, 1992), as in viewing a cloud creatively as an animal: “The camel is playing with the goose.”

8 Similarity versus Contiguity, contd. uSimilarity and contiguity are NOT crisply distinguishable.. uContiguity through representational connection: John is to the left of the picture. Metonymy using THING FOR REPRESENTATION OF IT. But image of John is (normally) perceptually similar to John. Precisely the point of the representation—not accidental. uMereological (part-of) contiguity: John washed his car. But bodywork is (relevantly) similar to whole, re external appearance. Mary saw the suits walk in. But someone+suit is (relevantly) similar to the suit itself, re appearance. (?)The diameter of the Earth is … miles. But rocky part is similar to whole planet, re appearance. uAnd perceptual similarity is important in much metaphor.

9 Similarity versus Contiguity, contd., and Subjectivity of S/T Links uConversely, why doesn’t a similarity count as a “contiguity”? uSimilarity is more in the mind, but a contiguity is in the world?? uand metaphor is a matter of subjective links, but metonymy a matter of objective links?? BUT... uAren’t familiar, socially-agreed metaphorical S/T links just as objective as socially constructed relations such as ownership, production, authorship, etc.? Don’t isomorphisms objectively exist? l So a price increase really is like an upward movement, just as much as a football team is connected to a country?

10 Hypotheticality of Source Aspects uTypically, in metaphor the source item/scenario is not an actual thing/scenario, whereas in metonymy it is [cf. suggestions in Lodge 1977, Riemer 2002, Warren 2002, 2006]. But … Thatcher is the Reagan of the UK. Metaphor, but S item actual. Dragons are on the top shelf. Metonymy, but S item hypothetical/unreal. The soldier laid his rifle aside [i.e., he quit soldiering]. Metonymy, but S item possibly hypothetical.

11 S/T Links as Part of The Meaning uSome researchers [Dirven 2002, Warren 2002] have come close to saying: l In a metonymy, part of the meaning is the S/T link itself – the link does not serve just to access the T item. [Whereas in metaphor the link is not included in the meaning. Warren (2006) even says the source items are “annihilated.”] His shoes are neatly tied is to be understood roughly as if it had been Parts of his shoes, namely the laces, are neatly tied. uVery appealing point about metonymy, but … A case can be made for the linkage to the source in some or perhaps many metaphors ALSO to be part of the meaning …

12 S/T Links as Part of Metaphor Meaning u“Marie’s problem” in Stern (2000): l I won’t swallow that. Spoken by anorexic Marie when forbidden by her mother to do something. Stern claims the analogy to not-eating is part of Marie’s meaning. u(?)The T aspects attended to may only be identifiable in terms of S/T links. l The camel [a cloud] has broken its neck (The particular part of the cloud may not have clear delineation; may have to internally represent it as something like “the neck bit of the cloud”) l The rate of exchange in her marriage had worsened, Mary felt. (Exchange of what? May have to internally represent as “whatever is viewed in Mary’s marriage as financial currency”

13 uMetaphor with irony or contrast (latter: e.g., Fass 1997) Speaker’s neighbour is going on holiday to Lake Windermere; speaker points to his small garden pond, on which there are several toy sailing boats and says: This is our Lake Windermere Arguably, the meaning is not just that the thing pointed to is the speaker’s pond, that it has boats, that it and the boats are small (via irony), that it’s where the speaker is going to spend his holiday, etc. but, more richly, precisely that the pond and toy boats contrast dramatically with a proper lake, and with Lake Windermere in particular.

14 Domains in Metaphor (cf. Lakoff and many followers ) uCommon to cast metaphor as a matter of connections between domains (or other related constructs such as Idealized Cognitive Models) … uAnd to cast metonymy as a matter of connections within a domain (or some such construct). uBut this requires an independent, appropriate account of what domains are (in general) and what actual domains exist (or how to determine what domains exist).

15 Domains in Metaphor: Problems (cf. Barcelona 2002, Cameron 1999, Croft 1993, Kittay 1989, Lemmens 2001, Riemer 2002, Warren 2002, … uDomains can form a hierarchy – so any two things are within some common domain. uDomain divisions are context-sensitive and arbitrary, and qualitative target/source difference can be arbitrarily small, making it hard or vacuous to put them in different domains: Christmas is on the horizon [TIME/SPACE] Peter is a fox Thatcher was the British Reagan Jill [own daughter] is our Mary [neighbour’s daughter]. uNew domains can be set up on the fly in fiction, and could serve as sources and targets in metaphor.

16 Domains in Metaphor: contd uSource and target domains can massively overlap, and in particular a mapping can lie within the overlap: Mind Aspects As Persons e.g. -- Mind Aspects As Persons: One part of me thinks I should go to the party, another part is determined that I should do my tax form.

17 Complexity or Extent of Mapping? uTypically, metaphor maps several connected things from source to target, and often maps/transfers a complex structure over (ORGANIZATION AS SOLAR SYSTEM), whereas metonymy (allegedly) maps a single S-item to something in T as an unanalysed, unconnected unit, i.e. without mapping/transferring its structure, features or associates (cf. going from Bach to his music). uBut: l Matthew is a lion. Metaphor, but just a single feature of lion is mapped, in typical accounts. No structure, no associates. uAnd:

18 Complexity or Extent of Mapping, contd uArguably, properties/structure/associates can (sometimes, to some extent) be mapped by metonymy. Mapping of appearance in metonymy: l John washed his car. The mapping between appearance of whole car and appearance of the bodywork motivates the metonymy and helps to highlight the appearance of the target. NB: highlighting of target aspects (as opposed to transferring new info from source) is an important function of metaphor. l Mike is to the left of the picture. The appearance of Mike and of his image are structured, so we have a mapping of structure not just of unanalysed units.

19 Complexity or Extent of Mapping, contd uMore on mapping of structure in metonymy: l The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. [claimed by e.g.Warren 2006 to be metonymy] It is not just “the hand” that is the source item description: it is “the hand that rocks the cradle” – this is what motivates the step to the mother/carer. But this rests on the similarity between the hand causing the cradle to rock and the mother/carer causing the cradle to rock.

20 What I Get From All That uIt’s wrong to try to distinguish clearly between metaphor and metonymy. uThese notions are just rough ones, not corresponding to objectively existing, neat categories within linguistic communication. uWhat’s actually important and reasonably crisp are the underlying dimensions, such as the ones above: l Extent and type of similarity or contiguity l Subjectivity of S/T linkage l Hypotheticality of S scenario l Involvement of S/T linkages in the meaning l Extent of difference between S and T domains l Complexity/extent of mapping.

21 Conclusion: Cloud Theory of M&M uPrototypical metaphor and prototypical metonymy may well occupy distinctly different regions within the space defined by dimensions such as the above. E.g., l Prototypical metaphor HIGH on complex structure mapping and on hypotheticality of source scenario l Prototypical metonymy LOW on both of these. uCaveat: Not proposing that the dimensions are numerical scales. uBut in general “metaphor” and “metonymy” are (heuristically convenient) labels for rough and intersecting “clouds” within the space ………

22 Dimension X Dim. Y Dim. Z Metaphor Metonymy


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