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I already know the basic meaning of metonymy (e.g. In "Washington passed the bill." the word "Washington" stands in for "the government"). I also know that metonymy is a form of nebeneinander (side-by-side positioning--as opposed to a metaphorical superimposition). However, there appear to be a number of other dimensions to the term that elude me.

For instance, the Wikipedia article claims that "sometimes, metaphor and metonymy can both be at work in the same figure of speech" and while I (somewhat) grasp the idea, the first part of my question is regarding which of the devices takes precedence in such a case, and whether a new semantic economy emerges out of such an interaction.

I would also like to refer to Elaine Freedgood's The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (http://bit.ly/reading-things). Freedgood argues that there are "weak" and "strong" varieties of metonymy in (Victorian) literature. If I understand the notion correctly, the former is an instance of merely positioning things next to each other (e.g. "There was a desk, a chair, and a book in the room.), whereas the latter allows for an analytical insight (e.g. perhaps into a specific kind of desk, chair, or book, or the specific interaction between the objects placed alongside one another).

However, Freedgood ultimately concludes that "metonymy is, rhetorically, both too weak and too strong: it tends toward the conventional, the obvious, the literal, the material--if often conjures up the real so successfully that its status as a trope seems to disappear" (12). This still confuses me, because in this context the "weak" and "strong" readings seem to become entirely subjective, dependent on two unstable factors: the reader's status as insider/outsider of the culture to which the objects belong, and the reader's skill of "reading" the object metonymically. Thus, the second part of my question is whether there can be such a thing as a "solid-state" metonymic manifestation (or reading).

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Either you picked up "nebeneinander" from a very obscure school of linguistics, or it's just the German word for "simultaneous". And for all I know, "metaphor". Anyway, to your question. If you're prepared to believe in it, by all means let there be "solid-state" metonymic manifestations". But this question isn't about language use as normally understood at EL&U. It's literary criticism couched in pseudo-linguistic terminology, so I'm voting to close as off-topic. –  FumbleFingers Aug 11 '11 at 22:16
This is very interesting, but both a bit off-topic (as @FumbleFingers says) and also probably too open-ended to work well in the stackexchange format. Thankyou for the food for thought, though :-) –  PLL Aug 12 '11 at 3:46
...Oh, and by the way, you could also argue that literary criticism is the study of "metaphoric metonymy", since everything actually written about in most "literary" novels is deconstructed into reflections of significant aspects of the human condition, etc., etc. Nothing is what it seems, everything represents something else. –  FumbleFingers Aug 12 '11 at 3:49
Hi Mig81, and welcome to EL&U! Unfortunately, as FumbleFingers and PLL mentioned above, your question is off topic. According to our FAQ, criticism, analysis and discussion of English literature is off-topic. However, we welcome any other questions you have. –  simchona Aug 12 '11 at 4:39
Actually literature opened 2 days ago, can someone migrate this there? literature.stackexchange.com –  Unreason Aug 12 '11 at 14:01
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closed as off topic by FumbleFingers, PLL, simchona, Thursagen, RegDwigнt Aug 12 '11 at 9:46

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