Liane Ströbel

Sensorimotor-based Concepts & Metonymy

I will concentrate here on the metonymy-based constructions in which meaning changes arise out of contextual contiguity, such as ‘have’ + abstract nouns, in which ‘have’ is used in order to help “a non-verbal predicate to act as a main predicate in those languages and under those circumstances in which this non-verbal predicate could not fulfill this function on its own” (Hengeveld 1992: 32).

An “invisible” action or concept (in the discourse world) is made linguistically “visible”, by presenting it (e.g. an abstract action or concept such as doubts) as it would be in the hand of, near, close to or even related to the speakers body.

By using the auxiliary ‘have’, the speaker does not add a new semantic component to the utterance, but instead strengthens the relationship between the subject and the action by presenting it as immediately related to his/her body.

This principle works with one or even more arguments as in I have doubts and I had a discussion with Paul.

In both cases the speaker is using the same strategy: he/she pulls the action closer to him/her by making a connection to his/her body.

When first used these constructions are expressive, but with time, due to the spread of analogous processes and their high frequency of use, the novelty effect and with it the original expressivity will disappear (Diewald 1997:106).

The increase in expressivity goes along with a stabilization and conventionalization of the new construction (Koch and Oesterreicher 1990: 78).