1st Edition

Metonymies and Metaphors for Death Around the World

By Wojciech Wachowski, Karen Sullivan Copyright 2022
    178 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    178 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book reflects on the ways in which metonymy and metaphor are used conceptually and linguistically to mitigate the more difficult dimensions of death and dying, setting out a unique line of research within Conceptual Metaphor Theory.

    The volume argues that metonymic and metaphoric descriptions of death and dying reflect taboos, concealment, and other considerations not found in figurative descriptions of life, producing distinct forms of euphemism, frames, and mental spaces particular to conceptualizations of death.
    The first part takes a closer look at metonymy to illuminate the ways in which it allows a person to zoom in on death’s more inoffensive dimensions or zoom out from its more troubling aspects. The second part focuses on the more palatable concepts which metaphorically structure and help to better understand death.
    A wide range of classical and modern examples from European, Asian, Australian, and African languages and cultures showcase points of overlap and divergence.

    Opening up new lines of inquiry into research on death and dying and offering a linguistically focused complement to anthropological and religious studies on the topic, this book will be of interest to scholars in cognitive linguistics, sociolinguistics, cross-cultural communication, and cultural studies.

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Introduction

    1.1 Why not be direct about death?

    1.2 Taboo, euphemism and dysphemism

    1.3 Highlighting and hiding

    1.4 Do metonymy and metaphor let us achieve a long-lasting backgrounding effect?

    1.5 The structure of the book

    1.6 Sources and methods


    Chapter 2. Why have metonymies for death?

    2.1 Types of metonymic relation

    2.2 Why are part for whole and whole for part metonymies so important?

    2.3 Why are part for whole and whole for part used to talk about death?

    2.4 How do we select the source?

    2.5 Conclusion

    Chapter 3. How is the part for whole used to talk about death?

    3.1 The initial stage

    3.2 The central and post-central stage

    3.3 The final stage

    3.4 The post-final stage – the effect of death

    3.5 Multiple part for whole metonymies

    3.6 Part for whole in metaphor and blending

    3.7 Form metonymy

    3.8 Conclusion

    Chapter 4. How is the whole for part used to talk about death?

    4.1 Whole for part – euphemising death and dying

    4.2 Whole for part and deliberately caused death

    4.3 Whole for part and suicide

    4.4 Whole for part in militarese and other specialised discourse genres

    4.5 Whole for part – multiple levels of euphemism

    4.6 Whole for part euphemisms for death-related concepts

    4.3 Conclusion



    Chapter 5. Why Use Metaphors for Death?

    Chapter 6. The Death of Sleep

    6.1 The experiential basis of death is sleep

    6.2 The state of the ‘soul’ during death and sleep

    6.3 Funerary customs that extend the correspondences between death and sleep

    6.4 Dreams and the afterlife

    6.5 Awakening and resurrection

    6.6 The manifestations of the death is sleep metaphor

    6.7 Examples of blending

    6.8 Conclusion

    Chapter 7. Darkness, night and winter

    7.1 A lifetime is a fire

    7.2 A lifetime is a year and a lifetime is a day

    7.3 Blending

    7.4 Conclusion

    Chapter 8. The End of a Journey

    8.1 The deceased are 'gone', but where did they 'go'?

    8.2 The Source of the voyage in death is departure

    8.3 'Going' to Heaven, eternity, or another Goal

    8.4 How do we 'get there'? The Path in death is departure

    8.5 When the body is a container

    8.6 'Going to one’s grave' as a conceptual blend

    8.7 Conclusion: To what extent are we all going together?

    Chapter 9. Game Over

    9.1 Death as a game/entertainment

    9.2 Cultural frames in death is the end of a game/entertainment

    9.3 Death as a player: A conceptual blend

    9.4 The deceased as a player – a conceptual blend

    9.5 Conclusion

    Chapter 10. The Unseemly Sights and Sounds of Death

    10.1 Position of the body

    10.2 The sounds of life and death

    10.3 Burial of the body

    10.4 Funerary rites and artefacts

    10.5 Manner of death

    10.6 Processes of decay

    10.7 Blending

    10.8 Conclusion

    Chapter 11. Conclusion

    11.1 The hiding power of death metonymies

    11.2 Near-universals in the human experience of death




    Wojciech Wachowski is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics at Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

    Karen Sullivan is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Queensland, Australia.

    "The title of this book should not deceive anyone. The book is much more, and much more important, than just an annotated collection of interesting metaphors and metonymies that deal with death in a large number of languages. It presents the reader with a coherent explanation of why the metaphors and metonymies, and the thought patterns that go with them, are both convergent and divergent around the world’s cultures. In reading the book, we learn about how we think about death, how our fears affect the way we think, and how we try to make this inevitable end-stage of human life acceptable to ourselves." - Zoltán Kövecses, Eötvös Loránd University