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Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Metonymy / metaphor:

Roman Jakobson's terms for the two axes of language. The vertical or metaphoric axis concerns the relations between an individual word in a sentence and other, similar words that might be substituted for it. Like metaphor, the vertical axis works according to the principle of similarity and substitution. The horizontal or metonymic axis concerns the possibilities of syntactic combinations of words so as to make a well-formed sentence. Like metonymy, the horizontal axis works according to the principle of combination and context. (See also Linguistics and literary theory, Structuralism.)


© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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University of Toronto English Library
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Last modified: March 31, 1997