METONYMIC CHAINS AND SYNONYMY

Author:
Mario Brdar
Email:
mbrdar@ffos.hr
Summary
Starting from the question about the universality of conceptual metonymies of the type place for institution, more specifically capital for government and country for government, the present article uncovers some shortcomings of a coarse-grained corpus methodology and argues for a discourse-based approach to metonymies in authentic use that could motivate variation found in the use of the abovementioned metonymies. The central elements of this approach are the notions of metonymic chains and synonymy obtaining between metonymic sources and metonymic targets, as well as between metonymic sources in a chain. It is demonstrated that whether such metonymic chains break very soon or survive over longer stretches of text can depend on a variety of factors. Evidence is invoked that signals that there are certain environmental conditions (structural, conceptual and/or communicative-pragmatic arrays of elements) that may be conducive to the use of the metonymy type under study, or perhaps just the opposite. Specifically, it is shown that while metonymic synonymy is one of the means of enhancing cohesion while maintaining topic continuity, its application may be constrained or even overridden by cultural-conceptual and discoursal factors, in particular by certain expectations or by communicative intentions, i.e. by marking the speaker’s stance.
Key words
metonymy; metonymic chain; synonymy; cultural model; metaphor
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