Several members involved in EMMA delivered presentations at the 2nd International Symposium on Figurative Thought and Language (FTL2), University of Pavia (Italy). This conference focused on the centrality of conceptual metonymy, conceptual metaphor and metaphtonymy in language and the reasoning processes with a view to fostering interdisciplinary and intercultural dialogue, promoting the study of figuration in different languages and cultures, and enhancing dissemination of research results. 

Have a look at the abstracts from our people:

Paula Perez-Sobrino, University of Birmingham, UK (Core team)

A corpus-based account of multimodal conceptual complexes in advertising

In this presentation we make the case for a corpus-based survey of multimodal metonymy, multimodal metaphor, and their patterns of interaction (in a multimodal application and elaboration of Ruiz de Mendoza and Galera 2014). Multimodal combinations may include, but are not limited to, metonymic chain, multiple source-in-target metonymy, multiple source-in-target metonymic chain, metaphtonymy, multiple source-in-target metaphtonymy, single and multiple metaphoric amalgam, and metaphoric chain. We report the results of corpus survey of 210 advertisements in two parts. We first offer an overview of the composition of our corpus by reporting frequencies of appearance of the identified conceptual operations, the characteristics of representation of the advertised product, and the use of modal cues. Second, we analyse the factors that may determine the conceptual scaffolding of advertising, such as the likelihood of modal cues and product types to trigger different amounts of conceptual complexity in terms of conceptual operations. Among the general observations arisen from our study, we found that metaphtonymy is the most frequent conceptual operation; there is a significant effect of the use of modes in the activation of different amounts of conceptual complexity; however, the type of advertised product and the marketing strategy has no significant effect on the number and complexity of conceptual mappings in the advertisement. This is a pioneering research work for three reasons: (1) this is the first broad-scale corpus-based study on multimodal metaphor; (2) it accounts for the presence of multimodal metaphor-metonymy combinations; and (3) it provides a description of the distribution and characteristics of multimodal conceptual operations in advertising, but also of the variables (such as product type and modal cue) that may determine the amount of required conceptual complexity, thus offering statistical correlations between the conceptual, discursive, and communicative dimensions of advertising.


  • Ruiz de Mendoza, F and A. Galera. 2014. Cognitive Modeling. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Prof. Francisco J. Ruiz de Mendoza, University of La Rioja, Spain (Partner institution)

The metonymic exploitation of descriptive, attitudinal, and regulatory scenarios in making meaning Plenary talk (28th October 2015)

Panther (2005) has argued that metonymy works as a natural inference schema that can support conversational implicature and indirect illocution. For example, in the domain of illocution, the expression of one’s desire can stand for a request to get what one desires (I’d like to get some fresh air ‘Take me out so I can get some fresh air’). This presentation elaborates on this initial insight by looking at pragmatic inferencing as the result of the activity of cognitive operations on cognitive models (cf. Ruiz de Mendoza and Galera 2014). In this framework, “metonymy” is regarded as a cover term for two more basic cognitive operations, domain expansion and domain reduction. In the former, part of a domain affords access to the whole, while in the latter the reverse is the case. The application of this account to pragmatic inferencing assumes that so-called pragmatic principles are mere epiphenomena of deeper cognitive processes. For example, a sentence like Someone has eaten my cookies is traditionally explained as an ostentatious breach of one of the two maxims of quantity from Grice’s Cooperative Principle. But this explanation is not enough. Imagine a context in which a mother, talking to her 10-year-old son, avoids a direct accusation, thus giving her son a chance to confess his misdemeanor. In this concrete scenario, the use of “someone” rather than “you” exploits the GENERIC FOR SPECIFIC metonymy within a more complex interpretive picture. Someone has eaten my cookies is metonymically interpreted as ‘you have eaten my cookies without asking for permission, which is wrong’. In turn, this scenario is embedded within a larger higher-level scenario, based on social convention, whereby having done something wrong requires the admission of guilt, followed by an apology, some repair, and the promise to behave well in the future. This involves a second metonymic shift whose source is the target of the previous metonymy. This metonymic chain is based on two processes of domain expansion. But sometimes domain expansion and domain reduction are combined too. Consider the sentence Jim is a great shot, uttered as a response to Did you have a good hunt? A plausible meaning implication of this sentence is that the hunt was successful because Jim hit many targets. This implication requires the activation of two metonymy-based reasoning schemas:

  • Premise 1 (implicit assumption): A great shot is likely to hit many targets while hunting.
  • Explicit assumption: Jim is a great shot.
  • Conclusion 1 (implicated assumption): Jim probably hit many targets.
  • Premise 2 (implicit assumption): Hitting many targets makes a hunt successful.
  • Previous implicated assumption: Jim probably hit many targets.
  • Conclusion 2 (implicated assumption): The hunt was successful.

Several metonymic processes are at work at different levels. The explicit assumption supplied by Jim is a great shot affords access, through domain expansion, to premise 1, from which we derive, through domain reduction, conclusion 1 as an implication. In turn, this conclusion affords access to a broader implicit assumption (premise 2) about successful hunting, which, through domain reduction, provides the final conclusion that the hunt was successful. But, underlying this chained process, there is some more global metonymic support based on the double metonymy ABILITY FOR ACTION FOR RESULT: someone’s skill as a hunter (ability) maps onto the hunting scenario (action), which in turn maps onto the successful hunt (result). The first premise-conclusion pattern above is necessary to activate the ability subdomain within the hunting scenario, while the second premise-conclusion pattern is fully focused on the result subdomain. Following this rationale, this presentation further distinguishes three types of scenario, i.e. descriptive, attitudinal, and regulatory, and accounts for the nature of the meaning implications obtained from them through simple or complex metonymic activity.


  • Panther, K.-U. (2005). The role of conceptual metonymy in meaning construction. In F. J. Ruiz de Mendoza, & S.
  • Peña (Eds.), Cognitive Linguistics. Internal dynamics and interdisciplinary interaction (pp. 353–386). Berlin &
  • New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Ruiz de Mendoza, F. & A. Galera. 2014. Cognitive Modeling. A linguistic perspective. Amsterdam & Philadelphia:
  • John Benjamins.

Mariana Bolognesi, UvA University Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Partner institution)

Conceptual metaphors and metaphoric expressions in images: toward a multimodal theory of metaphor (29th October 2015)

Distinguishing between thought and language is often an elusive and implicit operation that linguists and psychologists perform without providing further explanations. As a consequence, the two dimensions of meaning (linguistic and conceptual) may be confused. As a matter of fact, in cognitive science the structure of conceptual knowledge is often investigated with experiments that use words as stimuli, but the findings are discussed in terms of concepts, under the tacit assumption that different types of stimuli (e.g. images) would produce the same results (see for example Vigliocco, Vinson 2007 for a review). In metaphor studies the lack of an explicit and clarified distinction between concepts and linguistic expressions has led to a popular example of circular reasoning: conceptual metaphors have been inferred from the observation of linguistic expressions, but the existence of these conceptual metaphors is demonstrated by their manifestation in the same linguistic expressions (Murphy 1996; McGlone 2001; 2007). This critique led to a new wave of studies, aimed at investigating how conceptual metaphors (and image schemas) manifest themselves beyond and  independently from language (e.g. Casasanto, Boroditsky 2008; Cienki & Mueller, 2008; Nuñez & Sweetser, 2006). However, it is still unclarified how does the crucial distinction between conceptualization and expression apply to other modalities of metaphor, such as for example visual metaphors. This topic raises questions such as: Are there visual idiomatic expressions? Are there novel and conventional visual metaphors? How does a visual metaphor construct meaning through visual means and then convey conceptual comparisons? The present study aims at discussing and clarifying the two semiotic dimensions of meaning (representational and conceptual, or denotative and connotative, cf Steen 2011, Šorm, Steen, in preparation) in visual metaphors, and compare them to metaphors in language. The model proposed shows and explains the need of a differentiation between conceptual metaphors and metaphorical expressions in both, visual and verbal metaphors, thus allowing to include visual metaphors in a more encompassing theory of metaphor.


  • Casasanto, D., & Boroditsky, L. (2008). Time in the mind: Using space to think about time. Cognition,106 , 579–593.
  • Cienki, A., & Mueller, C. (2008). Metaphor, gesture, and thought. In R. W. J. Gibbs (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor
  • and thought (pp. 483–501). Cambridge: CUP.
  • McGlone, M. (2007). What Is the Explanatory Value of a Conceptual Metaphor? Language & Communication 27: 109-126.
  • McGlone, M. S. (2001). Concepts as metaphors. In S. Glucksberg (Ed.), Understanding figurative language: From metaphors to
  • idioms (pp. 90–107). Oxford: OUP.
  • Nuñez, R.E., & Sweetser, E. (2006). With the future behind them: Convergent evidence from aymara language and gesture in the
  • crosslinguistic comparison of spatial construals of time. Cognitive Science, 30, 401–450.
  • Steen, G. (2011). From three dimensions to five steps: the value of deliberate metaphor. Metaphorik, 21, 83–110.
  • Vigliocco, G. & Vinson, D.P. (2007) Semantic Representation. In G. Gaskell (Ed.) Handbook of Psycholinguistics. Oxford: O.U.P.