Metaphoric and Metonymic Operations for the Iron Expressions

Gao Jinlin


This study uses the word iron as an example to analyze the phenomena of meaning extensions and function shifts from a cognitive semantic perspective. The analysis shows that the meaning extensions of iron, which are systematic and motivated, are present at three word class levels: nouns, adjectives and verbs. The nominal extensions are systematically connected to the parent noun by the metonymy of THE MATERIAL CONSTITUTING AN OBJECT FOR THE OBJECT. The adjectival extensions are motivated by the metonymy of CATEGORY FOR PROPERTY. The verbal extensions are mainly stemmed from the noun extensions and motivated by the metonymy chains of THE MATERIAL CONSTITUTING AN OBJECT FOR THE OBJECT and INSTRUMENT FOR ACTION. The extensions for the phrasal verb iron out are motivated by both the metonymy chains mentioned above and the metaphors of DIFFERENCES ARE WRINKLES, DIFFICULITIES ARE WRINKLES, and PLANS ARE WRINKLES.

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