Publication details [#11194]

Publication type
Article in book  
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: John Benjamins


Waltereit demonstrates that metonymy also plays an important role at the level of grammatical relations. First, metonymic transfer can involve the insertion of a participant into a given thematic role such as 'Le 53 est rentré' (No. 53 is back), where the number stands for a hotel guest. Second, it can also involve a transfer of semantically contiguous thematic roles as in 'Papa va balayer ta chambre' (Daddy will sweep your room) vs. 'Papa n'a pas encore balayé les débris de verre' (Daddy hasn't swept up the broken glass yet), where the container (the room) is semantically contiguous with the object contained (the broken glass). Waltereit argues that, with regard to metonymic transfers, the direct object has primacy over the subject and other grammatical relations. The metonymically privileged status of the direct object is caused by three factors: it is semantically opaque and, hence, allows for a number of thematic roles to fit into the direct object slot; it is the argument that is semantically closest to the verb, which entails that its referential autonomy is somewhat weakened; and it is syntagmatically closer to the subject than other (oblique) arguments. (Klaus-Uwe Panther and Günter Radden)