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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses metonymy, an operation that is used to refer to an entity by means of an expression that has a particular semantic or conceptual relation to that entity (e.g. ‘the ham sandwich’ referring to a customer at a restaurant or ‘the wooden turtle’ referring to an object on a shelf). It discusses different types and communicative functions of metonymy and delineates it from other referential ambiguities such as homonymy and polysemy. The chapter reviews experimental evidence from real-time processing, acquisition, and language disorder and illustrates that discrete cognitive processes are involved in the constitution of extended meanings. It presents a classification of referential ambiguities based on neurocognitive profiles and suggests that the different types of ambiguities may be linked to the diachronic development of meaning alternations.

Keywords: ambiguity, electrophysiology, inferences, lexical pragmatics, mental lexicon, sense selection, reference

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