What do metonymic chains reveal about the nature of metonymy?

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The central issue that concerns us in this chapter is whether metonymy should be conceived as a mapping. The way metonymies function in authentic discourse indicates that we have two-way traffic. The initial conceptual substrate is designated by the source concept, but it is plastic and flexible enough to allow considerable customizing, often within complex metonymic networks. The inferences that steer the customizing are guided by the information based on text (i.e., cotext) and context (circumstances). It is argued that metonymy should best be approached as an inference-based domain elaboration (either expansion or reduction) of the metonymic source, in the course of which domains are tailored to an optimal conceptual measure with regard to their function.


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