This article explores the role of metonymic semantic relationships in the derivation of words via suffixation in Czech. Most scholarly work on metonymy has focused on the use of one word to substitute for another word, as when we say redhead to refer to a whole person. A similar semantic relationship is present when we form a word like brichac 'person with a (big) belly' from the noun bricho 'belly'. However, scholarly work on word-formation has not explored these metonymic semantic relationships. This study analyzes a database of 562 types of suffixal formations in Czech, where each type represents a unique combination of metonymic relationship, word-class, and suffix. This analysis not only demonstrates parallels between substitutional and word-formational metonymy, but shows that the metonymic relationships in word-formation are more diverse than in substitution. Asymmetries in these relationships are also explored, showing for example that actions are generally more salient than the participants and the setting, and that parts are more salient than wholes. The design of this study can be extended to analyze the word-formation systems of other languages and thus facilitate cross-linguistic comparisons.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.