Connecting the research fields of lexical ambiguity and figures of speech: Polysemy effects for conventional metaphors and metonyms

Bernadet Jager, Alexandra A. Cleland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The current studies investigated the processing and storage of lexical metaphors and metonyms by combining two existing methodologies from ambiguity research: counting the number of senses (as in e.g., Rodd, Gaskell, & Marslen-Wilson, 2002) and determining the relationship between those senses (as in e.g., Klepousniotou & Baum, 2007). We have called these two types of ambiguity ‘numerical polysemy’ and ‘relational polysemy’. Studies employing a lexical decision task (Experiment 1) and semantic categorization task (Experiment 2) compared processing of metaphorical and non-metaphorical words while controlling for number of senses. The effects of relational polysemy were investigated in more detail with a further lexical decision study (Experiment 3). Results showed a metaphor advantage and metonymy disadvantage which conflict with earlier findings of reverse patterns (e.g., Klepousniotou & Baum, 2007). The fact that both conventional lexical metaphors and metonyms can incur either processing advantages or disadvantages strongly suggests they are not inherently stored differently in the mental lexicon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-151
Number of pages19
JournalThe Mental Lexicon
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • polysemy
  • ambiguity
  • homonymy
  • figurative
  • lexical decision
  • semantic categorization
  • mental lexicon
  • metaphors
  • metonyms
  • literal

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