[tlhIngan Hol] Metaphor and Metonymy

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Jun 17 07:19:31 PDT 2020

On 6/17/2020 9:43 AM, Lieven L. Litaer wrote:
>> *Soj* /food/ is not an element of a matter or affair that can be used to
>> name a matter or affair, so it's not a metonym.
> Thanks. I'll mark it as such. So it's a metaphor?

Maybe. A metaphor is a word (or phrase) that is used in place of another 
word (or phrase), and which shares some common characteristics with the 
other word, but which is unrelated to that word. I can imagine *Soj* 
/food/ being a metaphor for /matter, affair, concern/ in that food is 
often a central affair in life. On the other hand, I can also imagine 
food being considered a major part of many events that might deal with 
important matters, making *Soj* a metonym. Neither interpretation seems 
convincing to me.

>>> 3. Some idioms consist of only a noun phrase, like {naH jajmey}.
>>> Wouldn't that also be a metonymy?
>> That's not a metonym either.
> So also a metaphor? 

Yes, and the imagery is explained to us.

    The phrase “vegetable days” (or “fruit days,” since *naH *means both
    “vegetable” and “fruit”) refers to one’s youth, a time before
    reaching an age considered appropriate for marriage. The imagery is
    of a plant, rooted but growing, just as a Klingon youth still needs
    grounding (the home) for nourishment (teaching) in order to grow
    spiritually. [KGT]

The characteristic of being tied to a place for some kind of growth is 
common to both rooted plants and one's youth, but otherwise the two 
phrases are unrelated. That's the very definition of a metaphor.

I don't think it's an especially useful endeavor to label which words 
have been used metaphorically in Klingon. Idioms need explanation 
because the meanings of idioms can't be deduced without an external 
explanation, but metaphors can be understood just by recognizing the 
characteristics involved. If you label *naH jajmey* as a metaphor, what 
use is that to the reader?

Understanding metaphor can be useful in many areas, like poetry, 
storytelling, and speech-writing. But to classify words and phrases as 
metaphors does not, I think, add any meaningful grammatical information. 
A metaphor arises in how you use a phrase, not in its mere existence.


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