Dr. Michelle Lecolle


Université de Lorraine-Metz - CREM-Praxitexte



michelle.lecolle [aτ] univ-lorraine.fr


Ile du Saulcy

CS 60228

57045 METZ cedex 01


Telefon: +33 3 87 54 73 89


Persönliche Homepage



Projekt: Wordplay, Linguistic Resources, and Epilinguistic Awareness

Within the framework of this project, which aims at examining the relationship between wordplay and metalinguistic reflection, I will begin by assuming that wordplay makes it possible to reveal the competence, sometimes unconscious, that speakers possess of the linguistic system and that instances of wordplay thus exhibit, indirectly, traces of discursive skill and language system competence. 

In this perspective, I will look at various linguistic phenomena, through their appearance in different genres, their shared feature being the way in which they mobilise the potential for wordplay (in the broad sense of that term) offered by language and discourse – I will not be concerned with judging the playful or aesthetic character of these phenomena. In my present proposal, I will be concentrating on two types of phenomena: (i) those that imply a linguistic motivation (as opposed to arbitrariness (cf. Saussure’s theory of the sign)), be it real, assumed or invented (e.g. paronomase, antanaclase, and other forms of wordplay based on sound and echo); (ii) those that involve double meanings and are apt to produce ambiguity and wordplay.

My perspective here consists in considering what the language (system) makes possible. I will mainly focus on the potential for double meanings found in the noun, both as a lexeme and in its referential uses.


  • lexical resources (homonymy and polysemy)
  • Proper names of inhabited places, e.g. city, country, or continent may be used to refer to a place, an institution, the inhabitants, an athletic team, sometimes an event that occurred in the place. They possess, for that very reason, a playful and argumentative potential;
  • Collective nouns (Fr. public, peuple, droite,etc.) are characterised by two levels, either referring to the whole, the entity (la fracture de la droite – the group), or referring to the elements that compose it (la droite se frotte les mains – the elements, the persons);
  • Desadjectival nouns based on an adjective-to-noun conversion (Fr. humanitaire/l’humanitaire, le scolaire, le politique) may have a sub-determined meaning which can be embodied in specific referential uses (e.g. le politique: ‘(all) that is political’, ‘the political field’, ‘politician’.



Michelle Lecolle holds a doctorate in linguistics and is a Maître de conférences at the University of Lorraine in Metz. She teaches different aspects of French linguistics: morphology, lexicology, semantics of tropes, rhetoric, discourse analysis and methodology.

Her areas of specialization rely on an approach which brings together semantics and contemporary discourse analysis (mainly press, political discourse, discourse of Humanities).

In a perspective which reflects the orientation of her doctoral thesis on metonymy in the French press, she is interested in phenomena related to indirect reference and, more generally, in the complex and intricate determinations governing meaning and the interpretation of nouns in context and on their performative and playful use. She has devoted articles to the fields of change in meaning, multiple meanings, and the ambiguities and fuzziness related to different types of names: collective nouns, place names, names of social groups. By studying different linguistic objects, she is trying to develop an empirical approach to questions concerning the complex and flexible relationship between language and the world (naming, neologisms, slippage of meaning and word play) and, through the expression of the lay person’s feeling for language, to the relationship between the speaker and language. 


Publikationen (Auswahl)

Lecolle M., 2007, « Changement dans le lexique - changement du lexique : Lexicalisation, figement, catachrèse. ». In Lecolle M. et Leroy S. (éd.) Cahiers de Praxématique 46, pp. 23-46.


Lecolle M., 2008, « Identité/altérité et noms collectifs humains. Le cas de communauté », Questions de Communication 13, pp. 323-342.


Lecolle M., 2009, « De la synonymie, vue à travers les emplois des mots synonyme, synonymie et synonymique dans les textes », Pratiques 141/142, pp. 121-137.


Lecolle M., 2009, « Le discours de Dakar. Représentations et stéréotypes dans un discours en Afrique sur l’Afrique ». In Laura Calabrese et Laurence Rosier (dir.) Ethnotypes et sociotypes : normes, discours, cultures, Le discours et la langue n°1, pp. 39-57.


Lecolle M., 2010, « Identité du groupe – identité de l’individu. De quelques noms collectifs humains ». In Osu S.N., Col G., Garric N. et Toupin F. (dir.) Construction d'identité et processus d'identification, Berne, Peter Lang, 2010, pp. 309-332.