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Definitions Edit

Metonymy is a trope. It is a substitution of terms in which the substitution is suggested by some material or logical relationship--as opposed to metaphor where the tenor and vehicle are unrelated. The topos or logical relationship most often cited is that of cause and effect, but also consider antecedent-consequence..The tangent of a metonym can derive from anything that is contiguous, adjunct, proximate, or functional to the tenor.

Corbett and Connors[1]: "substitution of some attributive or suggestive word for what is actually meant."

Glossary of Rhetorical Terms: "substitution of one word for another which it suggests."

Silva Rhetorica: "Reference to something or someone by naming one of its attributes."

Notes Edit

Metonymy is another of Burke's (and Vico's) "four master tropes".[2][3] Northrop Frye also uses it to suggest an allegorical world view, as opposed to a mythic/metaphorical world view on the one hand or a descriptive/scientific world view on the other.[4] Following Vico, Stephen Pepper[5] and Hayden White[6] also consider metonymy along with the other "Master" tropes as a means of structuring knowledge and history.

Some Specific Types of "Metonymic Contiguities" (from Semiotics for Beginners by Daniel Chandler).[7] Each of these can also occur in reverse: cause for effect etc.

  • effect for cause "he's an accident waiting to happen"
  • object for user (or associated institution): "hired gun;" "social media"
  • substance for form "Gimme five"
  • place for event: "Woodstock" (for the epochal rock concert)
  • place for person: "please call home" (e.g. talk to your family)
  • place for institution (e.g. the White House for the executive branch)
  • producer for product: "she wears Abercrombie and Fitch"
  • controller for controlled: "I hit the median" (with my car).

References Edit

  1. Corbett, Edward. P. J. and Robert J. Connors. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 398.
  2. Burke, Kenneth. "Appendix: Four Master Tropes." A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. 503-517.
  3. Vico, Giambattista. The New Science of Giambattista Vico. Trans. T. G. B. and M. H. F. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1948. Sections 404-409.
  4. Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957.
  5. Pepper, Stephen J. World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1948.
  6. White, Hayden V. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth Century Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
  7. Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics: The Basics. 2d Ed. New York: Routledge, 2007.

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