Metonymy in the Korean internally headed relative clause construction

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This article aims to analyze the Korean internally headed relative clause (IHRC) construction from a Cognitive Grammar perspective. The primary issue concerning the Korean IHRC construction is the mismatch between the syntactic object and the semantic head. While the whole embedded clause headed by kes functions as a grammatical object, the semantic head may acquire the object status. I demonstrate that the mismatch is nothing but a metonymic process, just like the mismatch we observe in the loon in the water; even when only the loon's feet are in the water, the expression is felicitously understood without identifying the particular portion of the loon under water. Just like the speaker accesses the loon's feet through the loon, she accesses the semantic head through the reified embedded clause in the IHRC construction. I show that adopting this general human cognitive process helps us reach a broader generalization and sheds new light on hitherto neglected examples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLinguistics Vanguard
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2022


  • Active-zone/profile discrepancy
  • Cognitive grammar
  • Internally headed relative clauses
  • Korean
  • Metonymy


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