Semantics


Conceptual metaphors and metonymy

In addition to prototypes, cognitive semantics assumes that the concepts expressed by language are interconnected. In many cases one concept can be understood with the help of the other; this type of interconnection is called metaphor. In the linguistic sense, metaphors are part of our conceptual system. The use of metaphors in everyday language is so common that most of them are frequently not even noticed.

The similarity or analogy between two terms from different cognitive domains is typically assumed to enable metaphors to "transport" one or more properties of a (usually relatively concrete) source domain to a target domain, which is usually more abstract. George P. Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980) distinguish four different types of metaphors: structural metaphors, orientational metaphors, ontological metaphors, and metonymy.

TypeDescriptionExample of conceptExample
Structural metaphorone concept is metaphorically structured in terms of anotherTIME IS MONEYYou are wasting my time.
Orientational metaphora whole system of concepts is organized with respect to one anotherHAPPY IS UP, SAD IS DOWNMy spirits rose.
Ontological metaphorbased on physical objectsTHE MIND IS A MACHINEMy mind just isnít operating today.
Ontological metaphorcontainer metaphorsSTATES ARE CONTAINERSHeís in love.
Ontological metaphorpersonificationPHYSICAL OBJECTS ARE PERSONSLife has cheated me.
Metonymyone entity is used to refer to another that is related to itTHE PART FOR THE WHOLEGet your butt over there!
Metonymyone entity is used to refer to another that is related to itPRODUCER FOR PRODUCTHe bought a Ford.
Metonymyone entity is used to refer to another that is related to itOBJECT USED FOR USERThe buses are on strike.
Metonymyone entity is used to refer to another that is related to itCONTROLLER FOR CONTROLLEDNapoleon lost at Waterloo.
Metonymyone entity is used to refer to another that is related to itINSTITUTION FOR PEOPLE RESPONSIBLEExxon has raised its prices again.
Metonymyone entity is used to refer to another that is related to itTHE PLACE FOR THE INSTITUTIONThe White House isnít saying anything.
Metonymyone entity is used to refer to another that is related to itTHE PLACE FOR THE EVENTWatergate changed our politics.


For more detailed information and exercises on metaphors and metonymy please consult the module Cognitive Approaches in the Selected Subfields section (click here!).


Exercises on conceptual metaphors and metonymy




Time is money.


Source of the picture: welt.de