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Deonymic metaphors in German and Swedish

Challenging metaphor theory

Mirjam Schmuck

Pages 459 - 487

Abstract: Metaphors involving proper names have received only little attention in metaphor theory so far. Dealing with purely referential linguistic units, deonymic metaphors challenge the theoretical discussion on how new meaning is created. Based on German and Swedish corpus data, the study explores the rise of figurative meaning in metaphors involving personal names. Structural mapping and graded access theory help explain why certain properties of the name bearer, especially gender, are highly persistent, while figurative uses abstract from others (nationality and professional domain) early on. Comparing both data sets, the study reveals a notable gender gap in German data, with the lack of male names (sources) used to describe women (targets). This discrepancy is partly attributed to extralinguistic factors (male bias), partly to metaphor processing and linguistic factors within German as a grammatically gendered language and a masculine/feminine distinction absent in Swedish.


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