An Investigation into Metonymy Production using Cross-Modal Priming
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Buddery, Andy P G
Figurative language production is understudied in psycholinguistics, particularly in regards to cognitive systems of language production. Metonymy is a form of figurative language in which an object is referred to by a particular (usually salient) feature of the object, and many types of metonymy can be comprehended by use of a linguistic rule, likely situating their production within the grammatical level of sentence production. The present study represents a novel investigation into whether metonym production can be facilitated by cross-modal priming. We first situate the study in the context of prior work on figurative language production, syntactic priming, and metonymy comprehension. We then report on our study into metonymic priming. Our results, surprisingly, show an opposite effect to anticipated, metonymic production decreasing in probability when a metonymic prime is presented. However, when the metonymic prime contained the same metonym as the target, it was shown to facilitate metonymy. The results show mixed evidence for the hypothesis that producer-for-product metonyms are produced using a distinct rule which is activated by priming, with a strong inter-participant tendency to not deviate from favoured syntactic forms likely impacting on results. Despite this, they provide evidence that metonymy production can be situated within the grammatical level of production and that metonym comprehension activates both figurative and literal interpretations, in line with existing literature. Further avenues for research are discussed.