Sincronía Fall 2001

Cognitive operations and pragmatic implication

Francisco José Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez

Lorena Pérez Hernández

University of La Rioja

1. Introduction


In this paper we explore some possible connections between the relevance-theoretic study of pragmatic implication and the Cognitive Linguistics approach to metaphor and metonymy as ways of making inferences, and understanding and reasoning about the world (cf. Lakoff & Johnson 1980, 1999; Lakoff & Turner 1989; Lakoff 1987, 1993). More specifically, we provide an alternative rationale for the understanding of the distinction between implicated and explicated inferences, referred to as implicatures and explicatures respectively (cf. Sperber & Wilson 1986), in terms of cognitive operations of various sorts. Some of these operations have already been identified and belong to the group of what Sperber & Wilson refer to as the "mechanisms" for the production of explicatures (i.e disambiguation, fixation of reference, and enrichment). Other operations have been proposed, among them saturation (Recanati 1989) and loosening (Carston 1997). Still others remain unidentified in the standard relevance-theoretic literature and require inclusion into this framework. In this connection, we shall propose that conceptual mappings (the latter as understood in Cognitive Linguistics) have to be added to the list of mechamisms used to obtain explicated meaning. In so doing, we shall argue for the validity of Sperber & Wilson's distinction, whose status has been the subject of some controversy (see Levinson (2000: 193-198) for a critical appraisal of some of the problems it is confronted with), if only on the basis of arguments deriving from our consideration of the cognitive status of the explicature-generating mechanisms.



2. Implicatures and explicatures


Sperber & Wilson (1986) have criticized those pragmatists who, following Gricean postulates, have adopted as a working principle the view that any aspect of utterance interpretation which falls outside the domain of disambiguation and reference assignment is an implicature. Instead, Sperber & Wilson have made the interesting claim that some of the cases of what has been regularly treated as implicatures are in fact cases of explicit meaning, which they call explicatures. For them, an assumption is explicit if it is a development of the logical form encoded by an utterance (Sperber & Wilson 1986: 182). A logical form, in turn, is "a well-formed formula, a structured set of constituents, which undergoes formal logical operations determined by its structure" (ibid. p. 72). When a logical form is semantically complete -and therefore capable of being true or false- it becomes a proposition. Incomplete logical forms are stored in conceptual memory as assumption schemas which may be completed on the basis of contextual information. Since, for Sperber & Wilson, completing an assumption schema -which has a logical form- in order to obtain a proposition -which also has a (more developed) logical form- is an inferential activity (i.e. it exceeds mere decoding), it follows that for them studying the way the logical form of an utterance is developed into its explicature is a matter of pragmatics.

Sperber & Wilson, together with other relevance theorists (e.g. Carston 1988; Blakemore 1992), have defended the view that there are three processes involved in getting from an assumption schema to a full proposition: disambiguation, fixation of reference and enrichment. While disambiguation and reference assignment are familiar linguistic phenomena, the notion of enrichment is entirely new. Consider the following example by Carston (1988; in Davies 1991: 39):

(1) The park is some distance from where I live.

By mere linguistic decoding and fixation of reference we obtain the information that the park is at some distance from where the speaker lives. However, this remark is but a truism in the sense that it is obvious that there must be some distance between the park and the speaker's home. In order for the utterance to be relevant, the expression "some distance", which is manifestly vague, has to be enriched to mean "further away (from where I live) than you think". As Carston (1988) has observed, when we deal with enrichment, the richer explicated proposition entails what is literally said.

In order to work out an implicature, on the other hand, the hearer needs to supply some implicit information which allows him or her to construct a reasoning formula of the condition-consequence type. Consider the following example, from Blakemore (1992: 58):


A: Did you enjoy your holiday?

B: The beaches were crowded and the hotel was full of bugs.

For B's response to be relevant, A needs to have access to the (implicit) assumption that one's comfort while on holidays may typically be affected by insects (rather than hidden microphones) and an excess of people. As a consequence, we reason that the speaker did not enjoy his holiday. This information is an implicature since it has its own distinct propositional form which functions independently of the explicated information as the conclusion of an argument.

Both Sperber & Wilson (1986) and Blakemore (1992) interpret the lack of literalness of metaphor and other 'tropes' as a matter of producing implicatures. For example, according to Blakemore (1992: 163), the metaphor

(3) My neighbour is a dragon

will yield implicatures such as those in (4):


(a) The speaker's neighbour is fierce

(b) The speaker's neighbour is unfriendly

These are the more central implicatures. Other weaker ones would have to do with the nature of the neighbour's unfriendliness, together with her behaviour and appearance. It is these weaker implicatures that justify the speaker's not using a non-metaphorical utterance like My neighbour is fierce and unfriendly. Metaphor is thus seen as a way of optimizing relevance, which Sperber & Wilson understand as achieving the adequate balance between processing cost and meaning effects.

The implicature-explicature distinction, as it stands in the traditional relevance-theoretic literature, has been the subject of considerable revision and criticism. Among its weaknesses stands the problem of finding solid criteria to distinguish what is implicated from what is explicated. Carston (1988) and Recanati (1989) are classic attempts to sort out this shortcoming. Carston (1988) puts forward what she calls the ‘functional independence’ criterion, according to which there is no functional independence between what is said and the enriched version of what is said, since the latter entails the former. This means that the enriched interpretation cannot be an implicature. For example, as we have seen above, in the sentence The park is some distance from where I live the expression "some distance" is usually interpreted as a ‘long distance’ or ‘further away than you think’. This interpretation is a development of the blueprint provided by what is said and entails it. In genuine implicated meaning, what is said and what is implicated do not stand in the same kind of relationship. For example, the same sentence could be used to convey a warning that the addressee may not be able to walk such a long distance and should, therefore, take a bus. The functional independence criterion has been criticised by Recanati (1989), who argues that Carston makes the mistake of using a formal property of propositions (i.e. entailment) to distinguish explicatures from implicatures. Recanati’s insight is essentially correct since what is involved in explicature derivation is not necessarily a logical development of what is said, but an adaptation of what is said to contextual requirements. Thus, Carston’s functional independence test does not fare well in cases of what Recanati has called ‘saturation’ as a form of deriving explicatures. For example, the sentence John is not good enough is to be interpreted as John is not good enough for a certain activity or purpose (e.g. John is not good enough for that job/for Mary, etc.). This development of the initial expression can hardly be said to entail what is said (cf. Ruiz de Mendoza 1999). Additionally, as we shall see below, Carston’s criterion would be unable to handle other forms of deriving explicatures which she has put forward in later writings such as loose use of concepts or loosening (cf. Carston 1997: 106).

Levinson (2000: 195-196) has brought to our attention a number of problems in the analysis provided by both Sperber and Wilson (1986) and Carston (1988). Thus, he notes that, contrary to what Sperber and Wilson assume, the representations of explicatures do not necessarily contain the semantic representation associated to what is said. For example, as he aptly observes, any implicature can be added as a conjunct to what is said. In John’s three children came to the party, it is possible to phrase the corresponding scalar inference both in terms of explicated meaning (‘the totality of John’s children, of cardinality three, came to the party’) or as an implicated separate proposition (‘John has no more than three children’). This same observation affects the theoretical status of Carston’s functional independence criterion, since adding an implicature to what is said yields a complex proposition which may entail what is said. For example, the sentence The beach was crowded may be used to implicate ‘I couldn’t rest’. The sentence The beach was crowded and I couldn’t rest makes explicit such an implicature, which thus becomes functionally dependent on what is said.

In more recent times, Carston (1997, 2000) has attempted to refine the explicature-implicature division by looking in greater depth into the concept of enrichment and by specifying further mechanisms of explicature generation. As a result, some cases of what was previously considered a matter of implicated meaning have been transferred to the domain of explicature derivation. Initially, Carston (1988), following Sperber and Wilson (1986), accepted the proposal of three mechanisms to derive explicatures: fixation of reference, disambiguation and enrichment. Later, it was realized that, just like enrichment, cases of what Sperber and Wilson (1985/86) had called ‘loose use’ of language, which included all tropes, also involved a departure from literalness, although in an opposite direction. Thus, while the non-literal expression "some time" required strengthening into ‘a long time’, the interpretation of non-literal "raw" in an utterance like This steak is raw involves a loosening of the lexical concept ‘raw’ from ‘not cooked’ into ‘underdone’ (and, therefore, ‘difficult to eat’). Consequently, Carston proposed loosening as a mechanism to derive explicatures. This mechanism typically applies to metaphor, which, so far, had been dealt with in relevance theory as a matter of implicature derivation.

In Carston (2000), both strengthening and loosening of concepts are treated as forms of what in Relevance Theory circles has come to be known as ad hoc concept construction. This involves the creation of a concept -as an adjustment to contextual requirements- on the basis of a linguistic cue. In This steak is raw the loosening process of "raw" is only possible in a context in which it is evident that the steak is not literally raw (e.g. a customer is complaining about his steak being overly underdone for his taste). Interestingly enough, the strengthening of scalar concepts also requires some sort of contextual adjustment. The expression "some time" requires strengthening in It will take some time to repair your watch, but not in He returned some time later (meaning just a little bit later).

The construction of an ad hoc concept is regulated by the principle of relevance, according to which the hearer is entitled to assume that the intended interpretation of an utterance creates the intended contextual effects with a minimum of processing effort. Of course, this principle is enough to constrain the number of possible meaning implications of an expression which needs this kind of adjustment. However, consistency with the principle of relevance is not sufficient to explain how the implications come about or what conceptual mechanisms are involved in their derivation. Thus, the principle of relevance does not account for what regulates the connection between ‘raw’ and ‘underdone’, or between ‘raw’ and any other target of the explicature derivation task. For example, the sentence My steak is raw is not a complaint in a context in which the customer likes ‘rare’ meat. The cognitive mechanisms underlying the derivation of a whole range of different explicatures for the lexical concept ‘raw’ have to do with the conventionalized scalar nature of the various targets and their connotations. Deriving explicatures on the basis of a scale is tantamount to going up or down the scale (this is the cognitive operation) until the hearer finds a point of the scale which will yield the relevant meaning effects in terms of the context.

The example above is a case of what Carston (1997, 2000) has treated as involving loosening. We face similar problems when confronted with examples of strengthening. Consider again the expression "some time" meaning ‘a long time’. Interpreting this expression requires going up the scale of time measurement until it reaches a point where it is adjusted to contextual parameters. The principle of relevance regulates the extent of the strengthening task, but it does not control how the task itself is achieved. The foregoing discussion suggests that loosening and strengthening are cognitive mechanisms operating on scalar concepts. But, there are also other cognitive mechanisms which play a role in explicature derivation.

In Carston’s latest work, metaphor and metonymy are treated as other forms of constructing ad hoc concepts, which involve loosening and strengthening respectively. We believe this approach to evince the same kind of weakness which we have already identified when dealing with scalar concepts. For example, let us consider the metaphor Bill is a bulldozer (Carston 1997: 113), meaning that Bill is self-confident and determined. For Carston ‘bulldozer’ is a non-lexical ad hoc concept which is used loosely. However, this does not say very much about how we obtain the relevant interpretation. In Cognitive Linguistics (cf. Lakoff & Johnson 1980, 1999; Lakoff 1987, 1993; Lakoff & Turner 1989), it would be postulated that what guarantees the interpretation is the existence of an underlying conceptual mapping from ‘bulldozer’ to ‘Bill’ whereby we understand Bill’s behaviour in terms of the figurative behaviour (i.e. the way the machine functions) which we attribute to a bulldozer. In other words, as with scalar concepts, we have an underlying mental operation (i.e. a conceptual mapping) at work to provide the range of meaning implications which are adequate to the context. A metaphor, therefore, involves a conceptual mapping across domains. Metonymy also involves a conceptual mapping, but within the same domain. In the sentence The saxo has the flue there is a metonymic shift from ‘saxo’ to ‘saxo player’, where the player and his instrument stand in a domain-subdomain relationship. As with ‘bulldozer’ above, ‘saxo’ is constructed ad hoc for the purpose of identifying another concept with which it has some sort of connection. However, finding out whatever kind of connection it is possible to make is not a matter of the principle of relevance. What this principle does is draw our attention as interpreters to the necessity of making the connection. Understanding how this connection is made and finding out its communicative consequences depends on our ability to determine the cognitive operation to be carried out for the sentence to be relevant in context. This point has been ignored by relevance theorists.

What our discussion above suggests is that the task of deriving explicated meaning is a matter of performing any of a number of cognitive operations on the basis of the blueprint provided by the linguistic expression and in connection with -or as constrained by- the principle of relevance. To the mechanisms of fixation of reference, disambiguation, saturation or completion, strengthening, and loosening, we need to add conceptual mappings as discussed in the cognitive linguistics literature. It must be noted that we have restricted the scope of application of the notion of loosening, which, in our view, only holds for some scalar concepts (those which do not require strengthening). So-called tropes like metaphor and metonymy need separate treatment. This decision is in keeping with what language itself reveals about the nature of these mechanisms:


(5) Loosely speaking, this steak is raw

(6) *Loosely speaking, Bill is a bulldozer

(7) *Loosely speaking, the saxo has the flu


As is evident from these examples, the hedge "loosely speaking" is only compatible with the hyperbole in (5), but not with the metaphor and metonymy in (6) and (7) respectively. This suggests that these latter tropes are not cases of loosening. In what follows we shall study in more detail how conceptual mappings are used to produce explicatures of different kinds. It will be shown that both the nature of the domains involved and the nature of the mapping places constraints on the kind of explicatures that can be obtained through this mechanism.



3. Metaphoric mappings and pragmatic implication


As we have already mentioned, in Cognitive Linguistics metaphor has been studied as a conventional conceptual mapping from a source to a target domain. The source usually allows us to understand and reason about the target in terms of some of the relevant aspects of its conceptual structure (see Lakoff 1993, for details). Thus, when faced with an expression like the one in (3) what we do is reject the literal interpretation and find some (culturally attributed) characteristics of dragons which apply to the speaker's neighbour's behaviour. Since the literal interpretation is never entertained, it may not be either an explicature or a source for explicatures. This is in keeping with what we do to interpret truistic utterances like (1), where what is literally said cannot be an explicature either. In (1) the expression "some distance" needs to be developed into ‘a longer distance than you expected’ by means of enrichment; likewise, in (3) the expression "a dragon" needs to be converted into ‘someone fierce and unfriendly’ by means of a conceptual mapping.

It is possible to classify metaphor from two points of view. One takes into account the conceptual nature of the domains involved. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) have distinguished ontological, orientational, and structural metaphors. Ontological metaphors, like PEOPLE ARE ANIMALS, highlight a quintaessential feature of the source domain which is then attributed to the target. For example, in the metaphor Achilles is a lion we take a culturally attributed quintaessential feature of lions (their courage) and ascribe this feature to Achilles (Lakoff and Turner 1989: 195-196). Orientational metaphors have to do with spatial orientations like up-down, in-out, front-back, on-off, central-peripheral, etc, and are grounded in our physical and cultural experience. Thus, the fact that humans and many animals sleep lying down and stand up when they awaken provides the experiential grounding for the metaphors CONSCIOUS IS UP, UNCONSCIOUS IS DOWN (e.g. Get up, He fell asleep). In fact, orientational metaphors, in being spatial constructs, are a subcase of metaphors based on image-schemas. Image-schemas, as defined by Johnson (1987), are abstract topological constructs which have their origin in our bodily experience. Among the most basic schemas, besides orientations, we have such notions as CONTAINER, PATH, and PART-WHOLE. Finally, structural metaphors allow us to understand an abstract concept in terms of a concrete one. For example, in the metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR (e.g. He shot down all my arguments, He attacked my views, etc.), we see people ‘arguing’ as ‘contenders in a battle’, in such a way that there is a correspondence between different aspects of both conceptual domains, thus people arguing, like contenders, figuratively deploy their resources for war, work on their tactics, attack the enemy, defend their positions, counterattack, gain or lose ground, and ultimately they win or lose.

From the point of view of the formal nature of the mapping, Ruiz de Mendoza (1998) has made a division between two kinds of metaphor: one-correspondence and many-correspondence metaphors. In the former, only one correspondence between the source and target domains is exploited, while in the latter, there is a fully-fledged system of correspondences which are brought to bear on the interpretation process. One-correspondence metaphors closely correlate with ontological and orientational metaphors. This is due to the fact that, in both cases, the conceptual structure of the domains involved is very simple. Thus, in PEOPLE ARE ANIMALS, attributed animal behaviour is mapped onto human behaviour; in HAPPY IS UP, SAD IS DOWN, as in the utterances I am feeling up or I am really down, a certain emotional state is understood in terms of verticality. The rest of the conceptual structure of the source and target domains is irrelevant for the purpose of metaphor interpretation. Many-correspondence metaphors exploit a richer conceptual structure and thus correlate with structural and non-orientational image-schematic metaphors. By way of illustration, consider these sentences:

(8) He was in a horrible predicament, but eventually he managed to get out of it

(9) We have to keep exploring for a solution to this problem

Sentence (8) depicts a figurative situation in which a negative state is seen as a container with a person in its interior. The fact that the person is affected by the negative conditions inside the container is felt to be the reason why he does everything in his hands to get out of it. This sentence exploits the structural elements and logic associated with the CONTAINER schema (cf. Lakoff 1989; Peña 1997): there is an interior and an exterior separated by boundaries, the boundaries are impediments to getting out of the container, the entities inside the container are affected by the conditions prevailing inside it, etc. As is evident from these observations, a metaphor based on the CONTAINER schema will develop more than simply one central correspondence for full understanding. A similar situation holds for example (9). In it a problem is seen as a region in space (e.g. a landscape), the solution to the problem is an object hidden somewhere in that region, and exploring the region is searching for a solution. For a complete understanding of the full range of meaning implications of the sentence, it is necessary to activate all the relevant correspondences.

From the point of view of the pragmatic notion of explicature, it is obvious that a classification of metaphor types in terms of the kinds of domain involved is not very revealing. This is so because explicature derivation is the result of a cognitive operation. On the other hand, a classification based on the kind of mapping process involved may shed greater light on the nature of the explicatures which are obtained through metaphoric mappings. In principle, in the case of many-correspondence mappings, we expect a larger number of potential explicatures than in the case of one-correspondence metaphors. Compare the following sentences:

(10) John is a lion

(11) You’re going nowhere that way

From sentence (10) we obtain the explicature that John is courageous in the same way as a lion is thought to be courageous (i.e. in a fierce instinctual way). Remember that in the one-correspondence metaphor PEOPLE ARE ANIMALS behaviour usually maps onto behaviour. Sentence (11), on the other hand, may generate a greater number of explicatures based on the hearer exploring the different aspects of the structure and logic of the many-correspondence journey metaphor which is based on the path schema. One of the explicatures will be more central than the others. However, this does not take away from the explicative nature of all the inferences which are developed on the basis of the conceptual layout associated with the expression. Thus in a situation in which sentence (11) is uttered by an angry father to a rebellious teenage son, it could be possible to derive at least the following potential explicatures, of which the first one is more central:


a. The addressee is not going to achieve his expected goals (if he persists in his behaviour).

b. The addressee is not making any progress in life.

c. The addressee may make progress if he changes his way of doing things.

d. The addressee is acting in an erroneous way.

e. The addressee may not have clear goals.

f. The addressee has erroneous goals.


As Lakoff and Johnson (1999) have noted, the central correspondence in journey metaphors is GOALS ARE DESTINATIONS. This correspondence allows us to derive the central explicature, i.e. (12a), which focuses on reaching the goal. The other explicatures are exploitations of the rest of the correspondences together with their structural and logical relationships. Thus, (12b) focuses on the action; (12c) and (12d) on the manner of action; (12e) and (12f) on the kind of goal.

The inferences in (12) rank as explicatures for two reasons: (i) they are developments of what is said by the expression, and (ii) they are calculated independently of supplementary contextual information. There are neither implicated premises, nor implicated conclusions involved in their derivation. However, consider a context in which the addressee knows that his father is angry at his lack of achievement in life. The implicated conclusion, which hinges upon the central explicature (12a), would be that the speaker wants the addressee to be successful by changing his course of action. This utterance would thus be interpreted as a warning. Or consider a different context in which the father is not really worried about what his son does, but knows that his wife will be extremely upset, which does bother him. In this situation, the implicated conclusion is that the speaker wants the addressee to act in a different way just for his mother’s sake. It would be roughly equivalent to saying ‘You are hurting your mother’s feelings by acting in such a way’. Such an implicature would be based upon those explicatures, like (12c) and (12d), which focus on the manner of action.

The nature of the metaphoric mapping and of the domains involved places constraints on the kind and number of explicatures that may be derived from an expression. Simultaneously, the principle of relevance determines which of all the potential explicatures is to be activated in a particular context.



4. Metonymic mappings and pragmatic implication


A metaphor is a mapping across discrete conceptual domains. If the mapping is carried out within a single domain, we will have a case of metonymy (see Lakoff & Johnson 1980: Ch. 8). Consider:

(13) Napoleon lost at Waterloo

(14) You know, Superman fell off his horse and broke his back

In (13) it was not Napoleon but the army under his command that was defeated. In (14) it is not the fiction character Superman, but Christopher Reeve, the actor, who broke his back. The metonymy in (13) is a way of avoiding the use of a longer, heavier to process -and perhaps rather more vague- definite description. It is also a way of emphasizing Napoleon's more prominent role in the defeat. All this information is part of the explicature derived with the help of the metonymic mapping. This is so because it is part of our knowledge that Napoleon organised an army with which he invaded Belgium, but was later defeated at Waterloo by the English. The metonymy in (14) would normally be used to avoid a long paraphrase like "Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman's role" in order to achieve successful reference. ). However, in spite of these similarities, the two metonymies are different in two respects. First, in (13) we have a metonymy where the target domain (the army) is a subdomain of the source domain (Napoleon), while in (14) it is the source (Superman) which is a subdomain of the target (Christopher Reeve, the actor. Examples like (13) are cases of what we may call target-in-source metonymy; (14), on the other hand, illustrates a case of source-in-target metonymy (see discussion of example (16) and (17) below for details on the relevance of this distinction). Note additionally that, since source in (13) and the target in (14) provide frameworks of reference for their corresponding subdomains, it is appropriate to refer to them as matrix domains. Second, the difference between the two types of domain-subdomain relationship which we have identified has communicative consequences which have a bearing on the kind of explicatures to be derived. Thus, metonymies like the one in (13) allow the speaker to focus on the source domain as the most relevant one while avoiding an uneconomical description like "the army commanded by Napoleon". This mechanism is often used when the speaker is unable to find the expression that actually designates the intended referent, as in:

(15) The White House is trying to avoid another scandal,

where by using the expression "the White House" the speaker evades the problem of accurately describing the type of White House officials actually referred to.

On the other hand, metonymies like the one in (14) allow us to bring to the fore a cognitively salient subdomain of the matrix domain, with its accompanying implications in terms of meaning effects. Thus, part of our conventional knowledge about Superman (i.e. his supernatural strength) makes (14) a rather shocking sentence from the point of view of the information it conveys. It is not only sad, but also ironical that the "man of steel" has damaged his back seriously.

It must be noted that metonymies are cases of one-correspondence mapping. This is a necessary consequence of the fact that in metonymies there is a domain-subdomain relationship. This relationship only allows for two kinds of conceptual operation: one involves highlighting a subdomain of the source, as in (13) and (15) above; the other requires the expansion of the source into a wider conceptual structure, as is the case of (14). In having just one correspondence, metonymies only allow us to derive one explicature, as will be illustrated later on.

In this connection, Ruiz de Mendoza (1997, 2000) argues for the existence of a metaphor-metonymy continuum based upon the distinction between one-correspondence and many-correspondence metaphors. Here we want to suggest that understanding the nature of this continuum is crucial to determine the communicative effects of the explicatures derived by means of metaphoric and metonymic mappings. Ruiz de Mendoza notes that while metaphors are typically non-referential, one-correspondence metaphors may occasionally be referential in nature, as in My tender rose abandoned me (cf. She is a tender rose). Many-correspondence metaphors, on the other hand, can only be predicative, and metonymies -which are by definition one-correspondence mappings- are usually referential. It is true that it is possible to find instances of non-referential metonymies, as in She is a real brain or She’s just a pretty face, or as in expressions containing verb-based metonymies (cf. Goossens, 1990) such as "giggle" in ‘Oh dear’, she giggled, where this verb stands for ‘to say something while giggling’. However, verb-based metonymies are necessarily predicative and could not possibly function referentially, while predicative uses of noun-based metonymies, which are very rare, need some sort of parametrization (adjectival or otherwise) of the source domain in order to single out a feature which will subsequently map onto the target, just like in one-correspondence metaphors (cf. section 3). Because of this, it is possible to regard them as borderline cases of metonymy: on the one hand, they share with all metonymies the fact that there is an evident domain-subdomain relationship between source and target; on the other hand, the operation of singling out a feature of the source, rather than using its whole conceptual structure, makes them resemble metaphors. If these observations are correct, the metaphor-metonymy continuum would have cases of many-correspondence mappings (which are predicative) at one end and clear cases of referential metonymy at the other end. Referential uses of metaphor, verb-based metonynies (which are necessarily predicative), and noun-based metonymies used predicatively would be in the middle. From the point of view of explicature derivation, predicative uses of metonymy would yield explicatures similar to those provided by one-correspondence metaphoric mappings, while pure referential uses of metonymy would involve domain expansion or domain highlighting, as shown in relation to examples (13)-(15).

Our discussion has provided indirect evidence for the division between source-in-target and target-in-source metonymies in terms of the different kinds of explicature which are derived on the basis of the activity of each metonymy type. Ruiz de Mendoza (2000) provides a number of additional reasons which substantiate the usefulness of the division. One such reason will prove relevant for the purpose of our discussion. Consider the following examples:

(16) The ham sandwich is waiting for his cheque and he is getting upset

(17) Nixon bombed Hanoi and he killed countless civilians

Ruiz de Mendoza (2000) and Ruiz de Mendoza & Pérez (2001) have postulated the existence of what they call the Domain Availability Principle (or DAP). According to this principle, only the matrix domain of a metonymic mapping is available for anaphoric reference. In (16), the matrix domain is the target of the metonymic shift (i.e. the customer who has ordered the ham sandwich), while in (17), the matrix domain is the source of the metonymy which maps Nixon onto the air force which carries out the orders which he has been sanctioned. It may be suggested that the reason why it is the matrix domain, rather than a subdomain, that is selected for anaphoric reference is related to the fact that the matrix domain is conceptually more salient since it provides a greater and often more accurately pinned-down amount of conceptual structure. This last observation particularly holds for target-in-source metonymies, since it is often the case that their targets are not usually clean-cut specifications. Thus, in (17) it is not known what specific section of the air force is involved in the bombing, but we do know that Nixon is ultimately responsible for that action. In both kinds of metonymic mapping, the explicature includes the information provided by the linguistic expression, although each in a different way. In source-in-target metonymies, what is said is conceptually expanded to include as much conceptual material as is necessary for the target concept to be compatible with the rest of the predication. How much conceptual material is called up is regulated by consistency with the principle of relevance, that is, we do not want to activate more material than needed, but enough for the interpretation process in hand. In target-in-source metonymies, whatever subdomain is highlighted is determined by its degree of compatibility with the information provided by the non-metonymic part of the utterance. Such a degree of compatibility is constrained by the principle of relevance. In a target-in-source metonymy the explicature is constructed on the basis of a reduction of the conceptual material provided by the source of the mapping. It must be observed that in both kinds of metonymy the source is still active to provide subsidiary meaning effects. Thus, (16) is more than a quick way of identifying a customer by his order. The customer could have been identified by other salient features. For example, imagine a situation in which a well-dressed customer leaves without paying and one of the waitresses remarks The gold cuff-links has not payed his bill. In this sentence there is irony in selecting "gold cuffs-links" as the source of the mapping. Similarly, the choice of the source domain in (17) is significant in that it is not the air force but Nixon that is felt to be responsible for the actual bombing.

Finally, it may be interesting to note that one-correspondence metaphoric mappings used referentially also select -like metonymic mappings- the best developed conceptual domain for anaphoric reference. Consider:

(18) My tender rose abandoned me, but I still love her

In (18), "my tender rose" roughly means ‘the girl or lady that arouses in me the same feelings as a tender rose’. This explicature provides enough conceptual material for successful anaphoric reference. So, it is preferred -for this purpose- to what is literally said by the expression.

The fact that anaphoric reference can be made to one of the conceptual domains involved in metaphor and metonymy further supports our view that these cognitive mechanisms only generate explicatures, since referential operations seem to be reluctant to work on the basis of implicated meaning. In this connection, consider again the short exchange in (2) which we expand into (19) for convenience:


A: Did you enjoy your holiday?

B: The beaches were crowded and the hotel was full of bugs.

A: I am sorry about that

As remarked above, the implicated conclusion is that B did not enjoy his holiday. However, it is not this idea that is the best candidate as an antecedent for the anaphoric "that", but rather the explicated information given by B’s response.



6. Explicature derivation through double metonymic mapping


So far, we have only looked into the communicative import of what we can call single metonymies. However, sometimes metonymic mappings evince a rather more complex structure. Consider the following examples:

(20) I love Picasso

(21) I have a Picasso in the lounge

(22) Can you imagine? He is using Picasso as a bookend

At first sight, ‘Picasso’ in (20) stands for ‘Picasso’s pictorial work’, but as in the Napoleon example above, the conceptual structure of the matrix domain ‘Picasso’ is somehow present in the explicature generated by the metonymic mapping. Thus, (20) communicates not only that the speaker likes Picasso’s work a lot, but also that there is some reason for this, which is to be found in our knowledge about Picasso (e.g. the speaker may be impressed by Picasso’s style, by his mastery of colour, and so on). Whatever additional knowledge is imported from the matrix domain to construct the relevant explicature must be done in harmony with the context and as regulated by the principle of relevance. The situation is slightly different in (21). Here ‘Picasso’ stands for ‘a specific sample of his work’. So, I have a Picasso can be paraphrased as ‘I have a specific painting by Picasso’. In order to arrive at this meaning, we need a double metonymic operation. from ‘Picasso’ to ‘Picasso’s work’ to ‘a (unique) sample of his work’. This situation is represented in figure 1 below.

In example (21), we have two operations of highlighting and two matrix domains. This affects the meaning implications of the mapping in that it is not only something about Picasso, but also something about our knowledge of his work that is brought into the interpretation process. This blocks out a potential interpretation of ‘Picasso’ as any other thing than his artistic production. In this connection, compare (22), where ‘Picasso’ may refer, for example, to ‘a (probably) small bust’ or to ‘a statuette’ of Picasso as a result of a single metonymic mapping.

A different form of double metonymic mapping is illustrated by one interpretation of example (23) below:

(23) Shakespeare is on the top shelf.

In this sentence, ‘Shakespeare’ typically stands for ‘a book with some of Shakespeare’s writings’. On another interpretation, ‘Shakespeare’ might refer to ‘a (probably) small bust’ or to ‘a statuette’ of Shakespeare. While the latter reading only requires one metonymic shift, the former reading calls for a double metonymic mapping of the form AUTHOR FOR WORK FOR (NON-UNIQUE) SAMPLE, as shown in figure 2 below:



In this mapping we have one highlighting operation and two matrix domains, one of them involving an operation of conceptual expansion. In the first mapping, from ‘Shakespeare’ to ‘Shakespeare’s work’, we import relevant structure from our knowledge about Shakespeare (e.g. his writing style, selection of topics, etc.). However, the fact that there is a second mapping involving a shift of matrix domain somehow neutralises the communicative import of the previous operation. This second mapping, from ‘Shakespeare’s work’ to the format in which it is presented (typically a book or a number of books), allows us to identify the referent in an economical way, while at the same time it preserves the conceptual relevance of its source domain in such a way that it is not only the format in which Shakespeare’s work is presented, but also its content that is important. Observe in this connection that using the metonymic expression focalises the fact that we are referring to Shakespeare’s work over the presentation format, in contrast to what would happen in a non-metonymic paraphrase like The book by Shakespeare is on the top shelf, where it is the format (e.g. a book rather than a CD-ROM, microfiches, etc.) that becomes more central.



7. Conceptual interaction between metaphor and metonymy as a form of deriving explicatures


Our treatment of the division between explicature and implicature has obviously benefited from the understanding of metaphor and metonymy not only as communicative phenomena, but also as cognitive operations whose exact nature pre-determines their communicative potential. In this section, we shall explore how the different interaction possibilities between metaphor and metonymy generate explicatures which are then available for application to specific situations with the subsequent production of implicatures.

The issue of conceptual interaction between metaphor and metonymy has been dealt with by Goossens (1990). In broad outline, he distinguishes three interaction types: metaphor from metonymy, metonymy within metaphor, and metaphor within metonymy. As an example of the first type of interaction we have the case of the figurative use of applaud meaning ‘express a strong agreement with a person, idea, etc.’, as in These changes will be applauded. In this example, we first perform a metonymic mapping from applaud onto ‘express agreement by (actual) applauding’. Then we may use this metonymic expansion of the meaning of applaud to indicate agreement in cases where there is not an actual act of applauding. The second interaction kind, metonymy within metaphor, as in I could bite my tongue, characterises a situation where the metonymy is from ‘tongue’ to the speech faculty as a whole. The figurative action of biting one’s tongue maps onto the actual linguistic action of depriving oneself of one’s ability to speak. The third pattern of interaction can be exemplified by the expression Get up on one’s hind legs. According to Goossens (1990: 172), in this expression, we initially have the description of an overall scene of a person standing up and saying something publicly; then, the addition of the term "hind" forces us to reinterpret the scene in terms of an animal standing up, thereby suggesting a greater effort.

In our interpretation, the first two interactional patterns distinguished by Goossens exploit the same kind of conceptual operation, since in both of them we have a metonymic development of the underspecified source domain of a metaphor. Thus, in These changes will be applauded we have a metaphoric source depicting a situation in which a number of people express agreement by applauding. This metaphoric source is an expansion of what is actually said by the expression. The target characterises a related situation where applauding corresponds to expressing agreeement by means of some other kind of action. Similarly, in I could bite my tongue, we have a metonymic expansion of the metaphoric source from the action of tongue-biting to a situation in which a person bites his tongue to refrain from speaking. However, there is a difference -captured by Goossens’ labelling- between the two expressions in that applauding to express agreement is not necessarily a figurative action, while biting one’s tongue to refrain from speaking has a stronger figurative component (it would be rather unusual to see a person literally biting his tongue in order not to speak). In any case, the difference is just a matter of degree of figurativeness and does not affect the nature of the underlying cognitive operation to be carried out. Figures 3 and 4 below attempt to capture the essentials of the operation which we have just described:




The status of the third interactional pattern distinguished by Goossens, metaphor within metonymy, may require different treatment. While it is true that one might take the metaphoric element "hind" from the expression and it would still be meaningful (e.g. He got up on his legs to defend his views), it may also be argued that get up on one’s hind legs as a whole seems to invoke the scene of a horse (energetically) rearing up (perhaps out of fear) as if to attack. This scene is mapped onto the target-domain situation in which a person rises to his feet with determination to speak in public. Since the linguistic expression underspecifies the conceptual material necessary to construct the source domain of this metaphor, it is not unreasonable to regard the cognitive operation at issue as one of metonymic development of the metaphoric source, as was the case with the two previous examples. This situation is diagrammed in figure 5 below.



The examples we have discussed so far only illustrate one kind of interactional pattern. However, there are others. Consider first the metaphoric expression My lips are sealed. This expression is used by the speaker to make a binding promise that he will not reveal a secret. The act of sealing his lips is only a figurative indication that he will in no way open his mouth to disclose any information. This indication is part of a more general situation in which the speaker voluntarily decides to be confidential about a certain matter.



Consider now the expression to win someone’s heart. In the source domain of this metaphor, we have a winner and his prize. In the target, we have a lover who has succeeded in figuratively obtaining someone’s heart. The heart, as a container of feelings, is chosen to stand for the feeling of love. Since ‘heart’ and ‘love’ stand in a domain-subdomain relationship, we have a case of metonymic highlighting of (a relevant part of) the metaphoric target. Winning requires effort and tactics, an implication which is carried over to the target domain of the metaphor, thus suggesting that the action of obtaining someone’s love has been a difficult one. Figure 7 illustrates this process.



One last possibility is illustrated by the expression He is the life and soul of the party (see figure 8), where a party is metaphorically seen as a person whose life and soul stand for his lively behaviour, which in turn stands for the person’s ability to be entertaining. In these two metonymic mappings, which are of the target-in-source kind, there is highlighting of a relevant part of the domain to which they belong. In the first metonymy, the person’s lively behaviour is seen as a consequence (and therefore, as a subdomain) of the person’s having ‘life and soul’; in the second metonymy, the ability to entertain others is seen as a consequence (then, a subdomain) of the person being cheerful.



It must be observed that in all the interactional patterns that we have described, the metonymy plays a subsidiary role to the extent that the interaction process has a metaphoric base. As a result, the explicated meaning of each of the expressions which respond to these patterns is to be found in the metaphoric target.



7. Conclusion


In this paper we have examined the development of the standard relevant-theoretic proposals in connection to the explicature-implicature distinction. This has allowed us to refine this division by looking into the way in which the different mechanisms of explicature derivation function. Thus, we understand explicatures to involve cognitive operations -regulated by the principle of relevance- which work on the basis of the (usually underspecified) information directly provided by what is said. Implicatures, on the other hand, are the result of deriving conclusions with the help of relevant implicated premises obtained from the context. We have also restricted the scope of application of the notion of loosening, which from our point of view does not apply to so-called tropes like metaphor and metonymy, but only to scalar concepts as in examples of hyperbole. Furthermore, we have studied the different ways in which metaphoric and metonymic mappings are used to obtain explicated meaning and we have established correlations between the different kinds of metaphoric and metonymic mapping and the nature of the explicatures which they produce. In this connection, we have made a proposal for a distinction between one-correspondence and many-correspondence metaphors and have argued that the existence of once-correspondence metaphors provides the basis for a metaphor-metonymy continuum. We have been able to see that predicative uses of metonymy yield explicatures similar to those derived from one-correspondence metaphoric mappings (by singling out a feature which applies to the target), while referential uses of metonymy involve either domain expansion or domain highlighting. Finally, we have studied more complex cases of explicature derivation by means of double metonymic mappings and conceptual interaction between metaphor and metonymy. We have observed that in double metonymies which only make use of domain highlighting the relevance of the conceptual structure of the two metonymic sources is kept intact, whereas in those double metonymic mappings involving both highlighting and expansion only the structure of the source domain of the second mapping is preserved. We have a different situation in cases of metaphor-metonymy interaction. Here we have noted that metonymy may serve either a developing or a highlighting function of the source or the target of a metaphor. The resulting cognitive operations are necessary for the derivation of the intended explicated meaning, which, whatever the interaction pattern, is to be found always in the metaphoric target.




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Sincronía General Index

Sincronía Fall 2001