Publication details [#1788]

Allan, Kathryn. 2007. On the diachronic development of metonymy.
Publication type
Unpublished manuscript
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Salford, Greater Manchester, U.K.


Recently, it has been noted by several scholars that the distinction between metaphor and metonymy is not always clear-cut, and that these should be considered as forming a continuum with some 'fuzzy' cases falling between the two categories (e.g. Radden 2002). Many metaphors are motivated by metonymy, and Barcelona (2000) has suggested that it is plausible that this is the case for all conceptual metaphors. This may go some way towards explaining why it is not always possible to evidence a clear 'A to B' mapping from concrete source to abstract target for all metaphorical mappings; scholars including Allan (2005) and Shindo (2003) have noted problematic cases that may not fit in with commonly observed patterns of metaphorical mapping. However, there has been relatively little work investigating the diachronic development of metonymy. Although it has been observed that metonymy is a common trigger for semantic change (eg Hanks 2006), it is not clear whether metonymical mappings always involve clear stages of semantic development that are diachronically separate, or whether the nature of metonymy results in a much 'messier' situation where several metonymically related senses of a lexical item surface around the same time. This paper considers issues relating to the development of particular metonymies in a diachronic context, and examines whether it is possible to evidence and trace the life-span of a metonymical mapping using lexicographical and early corpus material. It is argued that a diachronic perspective can be helpful and valuable in formulating and testing theories of metonymy, and exploring the relationship between metaphor and metonymy. (Kathryn Allan)