How Languages Construct Time

  • Boroditsky L
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This chapter focuses on work examining the role that spatial metaphors and basic spatial representations play in constructing representations of time across languages. One factor that affects the perceived direction of time is writing direction. People who read text arranged from left to right tend to lay out time as proceeding from left to right, and people who read text arranged from right to left arrange time from right to left. Because people tend to recruit spatial representations to think about time, representations of time also differ depending on what spatial representations are most cognitively available to co-opt for time. Cross-cultural differences in thought can be more than a matter of style or preference. Pormpuraawans think about time in ways that other groups cannot. Many Americans simply could not lay out time in absolute coordinates even if they wanted to, because they lack the basic spatial knowledge necessary to do so. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Lera Boroditsky

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