Cognitive Mechanisms Structuring Our Language and Thought: Theoretical Approach to Metaphor and Metonymy
Language makes it possible to use and understand complex language structures and cognitive mechanisms describing our reality. Scientists have made a number of attempts at understanding and using these conceptual mechanisms for various purposes. Phenomena which have fairly recently started attracting increasing attention in cognitive science are conceptual metaphor and metonymy. These linguistic mechanisms had for long been perceived as figures of speech in which one notion is understood trough another. However, taking into account that scientific disciplines exploded during the last century, linguists discovered interesting things which largely clarified conceptual processing of language as well as various language phenomena. What we know about metaphor and metonymy today tells us that they are not just figures of speech comparing and replacing one notion by another but rather specific phenomena in which one notion is used to present another in a different way or, in case of metaphor, to map some of the source domain features to a target domain creating completely new concept which is a mixture of both source and target domains. The aim of the paper is to present some of the major theories of metaphor and metonymy and clarify the understanding of differences between metaphor, metonymy and metaphtonomy. The first section of the paper deals with relationship between language, metaphor and metonymy and cognition. The notion of domain is presented in the second part of the paper which also presents notions of contiguity and similarity. The following section focuses on the theoretical approach to metaphor and metonomy as well as on relationships and mappings which occur as a result of cognitive processes. With the purpose of better understanding of metaphor and metonymy, the paper briefly touches on notions of polysemy and linguistic means.
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