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the context of a struggle – are represented as equivalent to a different class of physical actions, slapping. The effect of this metaphor is to treat the metaphorical target (the actions that do in fact take place) in a way that makes it seem minor and inconsequential. The present meaning of slap can therefore be derived through a two-step process. First, slap is extended metonymically from its root meaning to the meaning ‘make move by slapping’; secondly, this newly created meaning is applied in a metaphorical fashion to a situation which does not actually involve any slapping, but which is imagined as doing so in order to conceive of the event in a certain perspective (i.e. as unstrenuous and trivial). The fact that both the action really needed to down the opponent and the action of slapping are in the same general semantic domain of ‘contact through impact’ or some such is not relevant and certainly does not make (17) an example of metonymy, as it would for those analysts who define metonymy as intra-domain meaning extension. (17) counts as a metaphor (a metaphorical application of the initial metonymic extension to ‘make move by slapping’) because it uses one class of events as a conceptual model for another class, thereby imposing a particular understanding of the second class. The fact that both target and vehicle of the metaphor share the same general semantic domain issues not in a classification of the figure as metonymic, but simply as an understatement.


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