‘The Michael Jordan of greatness’ – Extracting Vossian antonomasia from two decades of ‘The New York Times’, 1987–2007
Vossian Antonomasia is a prolific stylistic device, in use since antiquity. It can compress the introduction or description of a person or another named entity into a terse, poignant formulation and can best be explained by an example: When Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen is described as "the Mozart of chess", it is Vossian Antonomasia we are dealing with. The pattern is simple: A source (Mozart) is used to describe a target (Magnus Carlsen), the transfer of meaning is reached via a modifier ("of chess"). This phenomenon has been discussed before (as 'metaphorical antonomasia' or, with special focus on the source object, as 'paragons'), but no corpus-based approach has been undertaken as yet to explore its breadth and variety. We are looking into a full-text newspaper corpus (The New York Times, 1987–2007) and describe a new method for the automatic extraction of Vossian Antonomasia based on Wikidata entities. Our analysis offers new insights into the occurrence of popular paragons and their distribution.