Metonymy in Word-Formation: Russian, Czech, and Norwegian


Publication abstract: A foundational goal of cognitive linguistics is to explain linguistic phenomena in terms of general cognitive strategies rather than postulating an autonomous language module (Langacker 1987: 12-13). Metonymy is identified among the imaginative capacities of cognition (Langacker 2009: 46-47). Whereas the majority of scholarship on metonymy has focused on lexical metonymy, this study explores the systematic presence of metonymy in word-formation. I argue that in many cases, the semantic relationships between stems, affixes, and the words they form can be analyzed in terms of metonymy, and that this analysis yields a better, more insightful classification than traditional descriptions of word-formation. I present a metonymic classification of suffixal word-formation in three languages: Russian, Czech, and Norwegian. The system of classification is designed to maximize comparison between lexical and word-formational metonymy. This comparison supports another central claim of cognitive linguistics, namely that grammar (in this case word-formation) and lexicon form a continuum (Langacker 1987: 18-19), since I show that metonymic relationships in the two domains can be described in nearly identical terms. While many metonymic relationships are shared across the lexical and grammatical domains, some are specific to only one domain, and the two domains show different preferences for SOURCE and TARGET concepts. Furthermore, I find that the range of metonymic relationships expressed in word-formation is more diverse than what has been found in lexical metonymy. There is remarkable similarity in word-formational metonymy across the three languages, despite their typological differences: Russian and Czech present lexicons comprised almost entirely of word-formational families (Dokulil 1962: 14), whereas Norwegian is more he avily invested in compounding. Although this study is limited to three Indo-European languages, the goal is to create a classification system that could be implemented (perhaps with modifications) across a wider spectrum of languages. This study involves the collection of three databases representing the types of suffixal word-formation found in Russian, Czech and Norwegian and their metonymic interpretations, giving the vehicle (starting point) for the metonymy (also called the source in the published article), and the target of the metonymy, and a single example for each type. Other factors that were examined were also the number of metonymy designations (vehicle-target pairs) for each suffix, whether a given metonymy designation was represented also in lexical metonymy, whether a given metonymy designation could be reversed (i.e. both agent for action and action for agent).

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Creator Janda, Laura A.
Publisher DataverseNO
Publication Year 2018
Resource Type corpus
Discipline Not stated