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Evidence Against Linguistic Relativity in Chinese and English: A Case Study of Spatial and Temporal Metaphors

by Chi-Shing Tse, J Altarriba
Journal of Cognition & Culture ()


To talk about time, English speakers often use horizontal spatial metaphors whereas Chinese speakers use both vertical and horizontal spatial metaphors. Boroditsky (2001) showed that while Chinese-English bilinguals were faster to verify a temporal target like June comes earlier than August after they had seen a vertical spatial prime rather than a horizontal spatial prime, English monolinguals showed the reverse pattern, thus supporting the linguistic relativity hypothesis. This finding was not conceptually replicated in January and Kako's (2007) six experiments for English monolinguals. In the current experiment, we failed to conceptually replicate her English monolinguals' findings: both Chinese-English bilinguals and English monolinguals were faster to verify the sentences after seeing a vertical spatial prime than a horizontal spatial prime. While we replicated Boroditsky's findings, in part, for our Chinese-English bilinguals, the similarity in the pattern of findings for both Chinese-English bilinguals and English monolinguals argues against the linguistic relativity hypothesis. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Journal of Cognition & Culture is the property of Brill Academic Publishers and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

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