Salience factors determining natural metonymic clippings illustrated through the medical lexicon


lexical morphology
linguistic motivation
medical discourse
morfología léxica
motivación lingüística
discurso médico
recorte (clipping)

How to Cite

Barcelona Sánchez, A. (2017). Salience factors determining natural metonymic clippings illustrated through the medical lexicon. Ibérica, (34), 17–44. Retrieved from


After briefly reviewing the cognitive-linguistic notions of metonymy and constructional form adhered to by the author (A) and discussing the general grammatical notion of clipping and A’s notion of “natural metonymic clipping”, the paper presents the list of salience factors whose combination determines the overall relative salience of a word segment. Two well-known inventories of American English medical abbreviations are then analyzed with the goal of identifying natural metonymic clippings in this register, noting their scarcity. A sample of three word segments that have become conventional medical clippings (tab- for tablet, -lytes for Electrolytes, and Chem panel for Chemistry panel) and a segment of one of the original full forms that has not become a conventional clipping (-blet in tablet) is then selected with the purpose of testing A’s salience factor grid on it. This grid is carefully described, including its numerical values, and systematically applied to the above-mentioned sample. The application of the grid to the sample seems to explain to a large extent the selection of the segments conventionalized as clippings in the sample, especially if compared to other “rival” segments. These results seem to confirm A’s earlier work arguing for the validity of the salience factor grid as a tool to account for the overall relative salience of a word segment and its (non) conventionalization as a natural metonymic clipping

Copyright (c) 2017 Antonio Barcelona Sánchez

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