Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
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Metonymy and metaphor are commonly taken as cognitive phenomena in modern cognitive linguistics rather than as mere figures of speech. However, the correct cognitive demarcation between metonymy and metaphor is the subject of intense debate; there are also different attitudes to the cognitive basis of metonymy. The main contribution of this paper is to identify the cognitive mechanism called complex thinking, which is well-known in psychology but hardly applied in linguistics, as the cognitive basis for metonymy; the difference between complex and conceptual thinking is also highlighted in order to distinguish between conceptual metonymy and conceptual metaphor. Using a cultural-historical approach, we can conjecture that metonymy dominates in pre-theoretical cultures, whereas metaphor emerges in theoretical cultures alongside abstract conceptual domains. In order to illustrate these points with a brief case study, the semantic evolution of the ancient Greek word Ûlh (matter) is considered.


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