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July 21, 2007

social metonymy

I'm still clarifying for myself the original linguistic context that metonymy describes, which is apparently synonymous or parallel with cognitive linguistics' use of it through (it seems?) the common conflation of linguistics and cognition.

My own conflation (!) is between language and action, recognizing in the definition (at least as I originally understood it) a label for the way certain social actions "stand in for" or "represent" or "invoke" or otherwise "call into being" other (larger?) social phenomena. I have conceived of social metonymy as a theoretical construct that names the linkage between microsocial behavior and socio-cultural behavior.

I found some online resources that use the phrase, "social metonymy" (which I think I have not actually searched for, previously. Go figure.)

Impersonal, General, and Social: The Use of Metonymy Versus Passive Voice in Medical Discourse (2007), which "shows that metonymy is another frequent strategy used to create anonymous authors/agents." (Gabriella Rundblad)

A Literature Network Forum on Joyce (07-03-2003, 06:23 AM): "The dinner (just like the Christmas dinner that would later occur in 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man') is a political and social metonymy of Ireland (metonymy because the whole of Irish culture is being symbolized by one portion of its society)." by AbdoRindbo who has since been banned. (!)

The 40th Summer School on 3U Rhetoric and Discourse Analysis by Dr Alejandro Groppo appeared on the google search with social metonymy in quotation marks. I didn't see the term on my quick scan, but obviously there is a high degree correspondence between my conception and the fantastic curriculum laid out here. (I'm jealous I will miss it - this August!) :-/

"A Bio-Critical Sourcebook" of Latin American Writers on Gay and Lesbian Themes (1994): in a review/critique by Julio Ramon Ribeyro on "Reynoso's often frustratingly cliched and stereotyped view of sexual practices as deleterious social metonymy, for liberation within a social context that is displayed as racist, classist, and spiritually-alienated" (357).

Elizabeth Keckley's Behind the Scenes in Race, Work, and Desire by Michele Bimbaum (2003): "The white glove that Lincoln wore on his right hand during the ceremony following his second inauguration is a 'precious memento' (154) to Keckley precisely because of the social metonymy of clothing: the glove bears 'the marks of the thousands of hands that grasped the honest hand of Mr. Lincoln on that eventful night' (155)."

An archived (2006) edition of Film Matters on "Kurosawa, the Emperor of Cinema" by Brian McAsey from BeatRoute Magazine: "His oeuvre, besides screenplays, soundtracks, and production work, includes 32 films he wrote and directed. From nascent director, making propaganda film to film impresario and samurai culture revivalist and master of piquant social metonymy, Kurosawa’s resume is impressive."

From Creative Loafing Atlanta, Wakeful darkness: In search of duende at the Bienal de Flamenco in Sevilla, by Cliff Bostock (09.23.2000): "The commercial success of flamenco has influenced it in disconcerting ways. It originated as noncommercial and spontaneous performances in which there was a subtle and mainly male dance with the gypsy's pena negra ("black pain"). A series of stylized gestures developed over time -- including the zapateado (heel tapping) -- but these gestures, functioning as a kind of social metonymy, were nevertheless intimate and spontaneously expressed."

Only nine returns from a Google search, and two of them were mine:

One is nonsensical (too contextual to be apprehended): "Now, you know me and my penchant for social metonymy. I was just imagining all of a person's free radicals spinning harmoniously in the same direction (the state of being at peace with oneself?) and attracting someone else who's free radicals are also spinning harmoniously in the opposite direction. At least more, rather then less, of time spent together. Wouldn't this provide a different basis of attraction than pheromones? (Some are used in pest control.) Perhaps there is a correlation between electron spin and the production of pheromones?" (February 01, 2006)

More clearly (!), Powers of Ten: "I saw this short video on the powers of ten when I interpreted a science class some years back for upper elementary school students (possibly fifth-graders). I find it a useful metaphor for this notion of social metonymy that I keep trying to articulate as a means of linking the microsocial with the macrosocial and vice-versa." (March 26, 2006)

Posted by Steph at July 21, 2007 10:08 AM


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