May. 24th, 2017

jack: (Default)
In a manful effort to remember which is which, I looked these words up *again*.

It looks like, "synecdoche" means using a part to represent the whole, eg. "how many heads" in a herd of cattle, or "how many bums" in a theatre, or "nice wheels" referring to a whole car. But is also used for the reverse, using a whole to represent a part, eg. "what does Brussels think" referring to the European parliament.

I couldn't tell why the second meaning was included, but secondarily, if the first meaning came first, and then people started using it both ways round, or something else. Nor if only the first meaning is "correct" and the second is a mistake, or if both are equally accepted.

Apparently "metonymy" means "using a closely related concept to represent a thing". Eg. using "suits" for "lawyers" or "businesspeople", or "the pen is mightier than the sword" to mean "the written word is mightier than force of arms".

So the real difference between "synecdoche" and "metonymy" is different history and connotations, which I don't really understand. But in terms of literal meaning, the only difference is "using a part to represent the whole" vs "using one concept to represent another".

But, obviously, human pattern matching means if you mostly use synecdoche in the "part for a whole" sense, then the most common use of metonymy is "whole for a part", even if it could be used for other things.

Can anyone fill in the gaps here?