Where Does Metonymy Stop? Senses, Facets, and Active Zones

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The purpose of this article is to propose a constrained lexical semantic definition of referential metonymy within a model of meaning as ontology and construal. Due to their various types of lexical-referential pairings, 3 types of construals that are frequently referred to as metonymy in the cognitive literature are distinguished as metonymization, facetization, and zone activation. Metonymization involves the use of a lexical item to evoke the sense of something that is not conventionally linked to that particular lexical item. It is argued that metonymy is a contingent relation that stops at the sense level. Facetization and zone activation both involve the use of conventional pairings of lexical items and contextual readings. Facetization takes place within senses at the level of qualia structure and zone activation takes place within qualia structure. Zone activation is a ubiquitous phenomenon that concerns all readings, senses as well facets.


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  • Languages and Literature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-264
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch

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