The linguistic sign: Metonymy and virtuality

Adam Glaz


Grounded in a rich philosophical and semiotic tradition, the most influential models of the linguistic sign have been Saussure’s intimate connection between the signifier and the signi-fied and Ogden and Richards’ semiotic triangle. Within the triangle, claim the cognitive lin-guists Radden and Kövecses, the sign functions in a metonymic fashion. The triangular semi-otic model is expanded here to a trapezium and calibrated with, on the one hand, Peirce’s conception of virtuality, and on the other hand, with some of the tenets of Langacker’s Cogni-tive Grammar. In conclusion, the question “How does the linguistic sign mean?” is answered thus: it means by virtue of the linguistic form activating (virtually) the entire trapezium-like configuration of forms, concepts, experienced projections, and relationships between all of the above. Activation of the real world remains dubious or indirect. The process is both meto-nymic and virtual, in the sense specified.