Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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The current studies investigated the processing and storage of lexical metaphors and metonyms by combining two existing methodologies from ambiguity research: counting the number of senses (as in e.g., Rodd, Gaskell, & Marslen-Wilson, 2002) and determining the relationship between those senses (as in e.g., Klepousniotou & Baum, 2007). We have called these two types of ambiguity ‘numerical polysemy’ and ‘relational polysemy’. Studies employing a lexical decision task (Experiment 1) and semantic categorization task (Experiment 2) compared processing of metaphorical and non-metaphorical words while controlling for number of senses. The effects of relational polysemy were investigated in more detail with a further lexical decision study (Experiment 3). Results showed a metaphor advantage and metonymy disadvantage which conflict with earlier findings of reverse patterns (e.g., Klepousniotou & Baum, 2007). The fact that both conventional lexical metaphors and metonyms can incur either processing advantages or disadvantages strongly suggests they are not inherently stored differently in the mental lexicon.


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