Metonymie Limited

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Metonymies and metaphors in events management

May 3, 2016

Icons, initials, brand names, nicknames, stereotypes, paragons, part-for-the-whole images, place-for-the events names, product-for-producer pictures, absent-but-known part-whole relations, domain expansions and domain reductions, category relations: these are all different types of metonymies. And metonymies are not only part of the visual realm; they can also be for example, sounds, tastes and smells.


Metaphor and metonymy are the two fundamental modes of communicating meaning, and the basis for much of our understanding in everyday life.


"Two central aims of a mind using language are to express new things with old words (via metaphor) and to say in the most efficient way something more about something already well known (via metonymy)". Nerlich and Clarke.


Metaphors and metonymies generate 'imagery' with connotations over and above any 'literal' meaning. Once we employ metaphors and metonymies, our utterance becomes part of a much larger system of associations, which is more or less beyond our control. Even though metaphor and metonymy frequently interact, each of them can have a different effect. 


On one hand, metaphor works because we notice a similarity (resemblance) between two different kinds of experience. Generally, the similarity is in the relationship between parts of the experiences. There is a "leap" between the two domains, which are then bounded by the metaphor.


In events management, we often use metaphor to help us showcase concepts through creative events production, for example to make language colourful, to give style and to embellish. In fact, events production very often tends to be metaphorical.  However, as with verbal metaphors, event- goers are often left to use their imagination and to draw their own conclusions as to the points of comparison.


On the other hand, there is another, lesser known process that seems to be equally fundamental to language and cognition - that of metonymy. Metonymy does not require transposition (or imaginative leap) from one domain to another as metaphor does. "Metonymy enables us to say things more quickly, to shorten conceptual distances. It is a universal strategy of cost-effective communication". This difference can lead metonymy to seem more 'natural' than metaphors. Metonymy allows the event's producer to spread inside and across adjacent conceptual domains, which then fosters transfer. 


At Métonymie_, we propose this different approach. We believe that particular kinds of metonymic substitution may influence our thoughts, attitudes and actions by focusing on certain aspects of a concept and suppressing other aspects, which are deemed inconsistent. We propose to integrate this methodology in your event or events portfolio's production. By doing this, we avoid delivering a confused and fractured message created by too many metaphorical concepts, and we prioritize metonymic messages and their connotations in order to keep a higher control of what your event communicates to your stakeholders.


We tend to always look outside of the box as we believe it's important to focus on choosing the right metonymies. We look for those salient characteristics that will have the best impact on your event-goers because we are convinced that the boldest metonymies - those which are capable of generating powerful meaning and connotations - are the only ones that will successfully steer your image and reputation. We call this "metonymic rupture". 

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