The role of metonymy in the interpretation of Korean multiple subject constructions

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This article argues that diverse Korean multiple subject constructions are uniformly explained by two well-known notions in cognitive linguistics: metonymy and domain highlighting. While there is no consensus on the semantic interpretation of Korean multiple subject constructions, the discussion thereof is still a popular topic. Nonetheless, many previous approaches that deal with the semantic interpretations of the constructions in Korean are based on several fixed categorizations of semantic interpretations, such as POSSESSION and PART-WHOLE. These approaches fail to capture the flexibility of the constructions that exhibit various types of semantic interpretations. Divergent from the previous approaches, I argue that the flexibility of the semantic interpretations of these constructions is deeply rooted in their metonymic nature. I further argue that, when coupled with the notion of domain highlighting, my approach sheds light on the nature of these constructions with powerful generalizations. In providing the detailed mechanism of my analysis, I adopt Langacker's Cognitive Grammar in that the notion of reference point (and metonymy) is technically well-articulated in the aforementioned framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-228
Number of pages23
JournalLanguage Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive Grammar
  • Domain highlighting
  • Korean
  • Metonymy
  • Multiple subject construction

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