Dr Wojciech Wachowski is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics at Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He has lectured as visiting professor at several European universities, and has published on various topics in linguistics, including cognitive linguistics and sociolinguistics. His main research interests include metonymy and metaphor, and teacher and translator training. Wojciech is visiting the School of Languages and Cultures as part of the Endeavour Research Fellowship to undertake collaborative research with Dr Kari Sullivan. 


In traditional rhetoric, metonymy is often defined as a figure of speech which operates on names of things. In cognitive linguistics, however, metonymy is normally understood as a particular type of mental mapping and a very basic cognitive mechanism (probably more basic than metaphor) rather than a simple linguistic matter. Metonymy is also thought to serve a number of different functions. The seminar concentrates on one of them, i.e. backgrounding. Metonymic backgrounding results from our perceptual limitations, i.e. our inability to simultaneously highlight more than one element of a conceptual frame. Thus, when we are led to follow one metonymic path, we automatically mute all the others. The seminar revolves around two forms of metonymic hiding. In the first one, in order to obscure the target, either a peripheral subdomain (in a source-in-target relationship), or a very inclusive (opaque) domain (in a target-in-source relationship) is selected as the source. In another form of backgrounding (used e.g. in verbal and visual humour), a ‘dummy’ target domain is temporarily activated in order to divert attention from the ‘real’ one. The seminar also focuses on the cultural and contextual factors, which may influence the selection of the metonymic source.

About Linguistics Seminar Series

The Linguistics Seminars are an opportunity to hear from guest speakers, UQ staff and HDR students working in the field of Linguistics. If you are interested in presenting in our series, please contact Linguistics Discipline Coordinator Ilana Mushin

Seminars are generally held fortnightly during semester and are free to attend. UQ staff and students, staff and students from other universities, and members of the general public are welcome to attend. If you would like to be included on our mailing list, please contact the SLC Events team via email.


Gordon Greenwood Building (#32),
The University of Queensland, St Lucia