The Power of Metonymy

Report
Władysław Chłopicki
Jagiellonian University. Poland
Symposium ‘’Scala naturae” Tallinn
18 August 2014
The little sister refers to close things to bring
them even closer
While the big sister manages bigger things,
bigger transfers
She is the neck while metaphor is the head
Both have large eyes and thus imagistic
capacities
 ….the body [and are thus metonymic themselves]
 Or more accurately they steer the body
 Which is their co-text [linguistic]
 the body moves, walks, runs within some
surrounding space – the con-text [extra-linguistic]
 movements of the body (usually goal-oriented)
are meaningful only within that close and
further-removed space (closer and further
context)
Concepts just like situations are complex and
consist of subconcepts or subevents
We think in terms of actions, scenarios,
complex, chronologically developing, or
potentially developing
We think vicariously, in terms of ‘’as if I was
there”
Meaning is usage-based – connected with a
specific event
 Metonymy is more than the relation of contiguity. It is
based on associations, reference-point relations,
situational embedding, all of which undergo
inferences in order to be interpretable by the speaker
and hearer. (The ham sandwich has wondering hands;
cf. Evans and Green 2006: 167)
 Metonymy gives a (usually verbal) point of access to a
concept, thus making it salient. This target concept
maybe metaphorical itself.
 Metonymy often gives rise to blends, through which
extra meaning emerges.
E.g. schematic
target
metonymy
target
target
target
target
Ref.Pt.
Conceptualizer
situation-internal
manner
ICM
ICM
means
property
cause
situational core
thing
relation
thing
subevent
situation type
place
time
reality - potentiality
situationexternal
situation
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
People typically conceive of a situation as a whole gestalt.
Any situation comprises a complex network of associated
concepts.
In “thinking for speaking”, the speaker decides on how to
code the situation she wants to communicate in a given
language in accordance with principles of cooperation.
The communicative act is (of necessity) metonymic and
hence requires the speaker to gauge its adequacy by
anticipating the hearer’s inferential task.
The hearer constructs the speaker’s intended meaning via
metonymic inferences.
whole situation
co-present subevent
successive subevents
salient
concomitant
precondition
initial central
final
end
peripheral
S
9
 Presence of the hearer as witness of the situation
 Reporting the situation – familiar or unfamiliar to
the hearer, specifically or generally
 Genre of speech – oral or written
 Informational or esthetic (literary) or persuasive
 Serious or jocular
 Presence of convention, degree of
conventionality – helps or hinders, but is a
necessary reference point
Humour – anyone could write
a novel given six weeks , pen,
paper, and no telephone or
wife (E. Waugh Chips Channon
Diary 16 Dec 1934)
 Information (crossword)- result of six weeks off
in isolation, with pen, and ample paper, but no
telephone or family?
 Information (science) – an experiment was
carried out on 73 volunteers, men and women,
who were isolated for six weeks with no access to
phone or family and friends and given just pen
and paper. As a result 58% produced complete
novels, 23% generated sizable portions possible
to complete later, 12% wrote their memoirs,
while the remaining 7% wrote nothing at al, just
scribbled and drew.
Persuasion – If only you could give me six
weeks , pen, paper, and cut me from the
telephone and family, I will easily write a
stunning novel
Poetry –Pen and paper, quiet evenings,
no phone rings nor nagging questions,
page by page my world transpires,
and unveils the thought congestion.
Metaphor – Putting pen to paper in forced
isolation is like conceiving a child through a
hole in the prison wall
Proverb – Pen to paper for six weeks makes
your readers fall asleep
 Carol Mattau to her husband, who had asked the
age of a flirtatious starlet with noticeably thick
legs: For God’s sake, Walter, why don’t you chop
off her legs and read the rings? (T. Capote
Answered Prayers (1986)
 Metaphor, blending but metonymy-driven (legs
for trees as well as legs are trees) resulting in
emergent meaning
 Asking the age, chopping off legs and reading
readings are postulated POTENTIAL subevents for
the FLIRT event (POTENTIAL FOR ACTUAL)
ASKING AGE
(of women)
-judging looks
Socially awkward
Ask the age
•
•
CHECKING AGE
(of thick trees)
Blend
Cut tree, check
rings
CHECKING AGE OF
(THICK) LEGS
(no rings inside)
SIDE EFFECTS –
counterproductive
ecological motivation
NEED TO INSPECT TO CONFIRM
NEED TO INSPECT
Why don’t you cut her legs
Cut tree, check the rings
NEED TO CONFIRM
How old are you?
and check the rings?
I find then I am but a bad anatomist
(Oliver Knox in Wolfe Tone’s Rebels and
Informers 1998, cutting his throat in prison, he
severed his windpipe instead of his jugular
and lingered for several days)
OPERATION FOR PROFESSION
 So basically you’re saying marriage is just a way
of getting out of an embarassing pause in
conversation?
(Richard Curtis, Four Weddings and a Funeral
1994)
Pause as salient precondition for marriage
 If an Englishman gets run down by a truck he
apologizes to the truck (Jackie Mason)
Apology as final subevent - salient for any
scenarios of English behaviour
Often Daddy sat up very late working on a
case of Scotch (Nathaniel Benchley in Robert
Benchley 1955)
Metaphoric double entendre based on
schematic metonymy (repetitive movements
scenario – reaching for drink, drinking and
putting the drink down VS flipping pages,
reading, writing, flipping pages, etc)
Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a
swill bucket (George Orwell)
Metonymy is the salient specific co-present
subevent of Rattling for Making (unnecesary)
noise (POTENTIAL FOR ACTUAL)
Metaphor – Advertising is making
unnecessary noise
 A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation
(Saki, The Square Egg 1924) - central subevent
 One of the nicest old ladies I have ever met (William
Faulkner on Henry James) LADIES FOR EFFEMINATE MEN
 Waiting for the German verb is surely the ultimate thrill
(Flan O’Brien, The Hair of the Dogma 1977) VERB FOR
LANGUAGE
 Some weasel took the cork out of my lunch (W.C. Fields
You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man 1939 film) CORK FOR
BOTTLE
 Life is a sexually transmitted disease - initial subevent
SEX FOR LIFE - LIFE IS A DiSEASE
A literary man – with a wooden leg (Dickens –
Our Mutual Friend (1865) WHOLE – SALIENT
PART
What’s the use of a book, thought Alice,
without pictures and conversations? (Alice’s
Adventures in Wonderland 1865) WHOLE –
SALIENT PART, WHOLE – FINAL SUBEVENT
METONYMIES ARE IRRESISTIBLE and hence
their power
We want to find out what is at the end of the
neck, what it is leading to…
Humour results if the neck is long and winding
and attached not quite where it belongs – or
perhaps
‘’The foregrounding of metonymy as an
essential conceptual tool of humour-making is
undoubtedly innovative, welcome and
valuable, and can eventually invalidate some
components of script-based theories, because
metonymy in not a between-domain or
between-script relation” (Krikmann 2009: 29)
‘’Blend-oriented analysis are fascinating to
read, but as the conceptual integration theory
as such is an ultimately and comprehensive
‘’theory of everything’…, the analyses that
have been performed so far do not aim to tell
us more exactly which blends do result in
humour and which ones do not” (Krikmann
2009: 31)
‘’What is needed is social logic that allows a
theory to ground the interpretation in the
specific concerns and prejudices of the
listener as social agent” (Krikmann 2009: 35)
 Evans, Vyvyan and Melanie Green. 2006. Cognitive Linguistics. An
Introduction. Edinburgh University Press.
 Evans, Vyvyan. 2007. A Glossary of Cognitive Linguistics. Edinburgh
University Press.
 Krikmann, Arvo. 2009. On the similarity and distinguishability of
humour and figurative speech. Trames 13 (63/58), 1, 14-40.
 Krikmann, Arvo. 2012. Estonian ‘three-nation’ jokes (1964-2012). A
paper presented at 24th ISHS Krakow, Poland. 26 June.
 Sherrin, Ned. 2002. Oxford Book of Humorous Quotes. Oxford
University Press.
 Radden, Gunther. 2014. Situation metonymies. First Figurative
speech symposium, Thessaloniki. Unpublished.
 Three passengers from Poland, Germany and Estonia are
flying over Russia in a small kukuruzhnik plane. Suddenly
both engines of the plane fail, and trying to avoid a plane
crash, they want to jump. They find a parachute, a fire
extinguisher and water hose and are about to jump off
crying ‘’Long live” their native countries, but at the last
moment they reflect and decide to show respect to their
more powerful neighbours, so the Estonian shouts: Elagu
Poola!, with a tear in his eye and jumps with his parachute,
The Pole shouts ‘’Niech zyja Niemcy! ‘’and cries rather
more profusely and jumps on the fire extinquisher, and
then the German – what is he to do? He shouts „Lang lebe
Estland!”, cries like a beaver and jumps with the water
hose. All of them obviously land safely.
 You might think they will land on the White Sea
and will be sailing with a brown boat on it and
will be in danger of being killed, but no! They
land in the forest and and are accosted by a
native Russian and are challenged to three tasks
if they want to escape alive: drinking a gallon of
vodka, shaking hands with a bear and raping a
nun. Luckily for them, only three gallons of vodka
are found available on the premises and after
having easily gobbled them, all three of them
(well almost all three) having come from vodka
drinking countries, they are allowed to move on.
On the way they encounter a huge cat which
demands milk from them but since they know
the ways of cats they feed him mustard,
knowing full well how to, and he happily eats
all of it and lets them go. On the way out of
the forest, since even in Russia the forest ends
somewhere, they see a pub and gladly enter
it. Now the bar tender, having ritually
exclaimed: What is it? Some kind of joke?,
serves them gallons and gallons of vodka.
 Following that they engage in the bragging
competition on the size of their members, which is
naturally won by the German, and among all the
confusion the golden fish appears and asks them
their wishes. The Estonian wishes his own saarel and
slowly dissapears there, the German wishes his own
Schloss and dissapears there, and the Pole wants his
friends back as he became very emotional and
attached to the two after all they have gone through,
and he gets his wish too. So they are all back drunk
and happy.
 Now it is time to drink Bruderschaft with the bar
tender after all these vodkas, but he says ‘’OK. you can
call me by my first name only after you manage to
shoot the target at 100 meters”, so the Estonian says: I
am Arvo Paart and I cannot shoot, the German says I
am Kaiser Wilhelm and I am a good shooter and shoots
precisely in the middle of the target. Finally, the Pole
shoots and the arrow twists and turns so unluckily (or
luckily as the story would have continued otherwise)
that it kills the bar tender, the German, the Estonian
and then hits himself, whereupon the Pole says : I am
sorry.

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