Multimodal metaphor and metony in advertising: a corpus-based account

Paula Pérez-Sobrino

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This paper offers the first large-scale study of a multimodal corpus of 210 advertisements. First, the reader is presented with a description of the corpus in terms of the distribution of conceptual operations (for the purposes of this work, metaphor and metonymy) and use of modal cues. Subsequently, the weight of mode and marketing strategy to trigger more or less amounts of conceptual complexity is analysed. This corpus-based survey is complemented with the qualitative analysis of three novel metaphor-metonymy interactions that stem from the data and that have not yet been surveyed in multimodal use. The results show that metaphtonymy (a metaphor-metonymy compound) is the most frequent conceptual operation in the corpus; that there is a significant effect of the use of modes in the activation of different amounts of conceptual complexity; and that the type of advertised product and the marketing strategy has no significant effect on the number and complexity of conceptual mappings in the advertisement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-90
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number2
Early online date20 Apr 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Paula Perez Sobrino is a Marie Curie post-doctoral fellow at the University of Birmingham. Together with Professor Jeannette Littlemore, they run the 2-year project EMMA (Exploring Multimodal Metaphor in Advertising), with the support of the European Commission. Find out more at:


  • advertising, metaphor, metonymy, multimodality


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