Metonymy, category broadening and narrowing, and vertical polysemy

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This chapter examines the relationship between metonymy and cases of category broadening and narrowing and the resulting state of vertical polysemy (e.g., cat ‘domestic cat’ > ‘any feline’ and drink ‘consume liquid’ > ‘consume alcohol’). Broadening and narrowing have been argued to be motivated by metonymic processes where a category member stands for the whole category or vice versa (Radden and Kövecses, 1999; cf. also Lakoff, 1987). Here, I show that there is a crucial difference between the domain structures involved in metonymy and in vertical polysemy. Unlike metonymies, broadening and narrowing do not involve a shift in the salience of domains (see Croft, 1993). Instead, I argue that there are four possible domain configurations that may underlie vertically related meanings.


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