Guidelines for the application of the theories of metaphor and metonymy to textual examples

Antonio Barcelona



The cognitive theories of metaphor and metonymy, in the author’s view, present some minor deficiencies which have to be overcome if they are to be easily applicable in linguistic and literary research. Moreover, the researcher attempting to apply these theories must be given some clear guidelines helping her/him to decide as confidently as possible whether a given portion of a text is the expression of a conventional metaphor, of a conventional metonymy, or of both, and (s)he must also be able to identify the kind of metaphor and / or metonymy that is at work, and the kind of interaction between them. The article is, in its first part, a contribution to the clarification of some of the theoretical problems, namely those that affect the notion of metonymy, which has been less intensively studied by cognitive linguists, and those affecting the distinction between metaphor and metonymy, especially the one that derives from the cognitive notion of conceptual domain. The second part is a case study of a brief textual example, by means of which the guidelines that in the author’s view should be followed in the application of the cognitive Aeories of metaphor and metonymy are briefly discussed and tested. The reader is assumed to have at least some superficial familiarity with the basic tenets and terminology of cognitive linguistics.


metaphor; metonomy; cognitive theories; linguistics; literary research

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