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Cognitive Linguistics

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Volume 27, Issue 2


With the future coming up behind them: Evidence that Time approaches from behind in Vietnamese

Karen Sullivan / Linh Thuy Bui
Published Online: 2016-04-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0066


Vietnamese speakers can describe the future as behind them and gesture forwards to indicate the past, which suggests they use a conceptual model of Time in which the future is behind and the past is in front. This type of model has previously been shown to be pervasive only among older speakers of Aymara in the Andes (Núñez and Sweetser 2006. With the future behind them: Convergent evidence from Aymara language and gesture in the crosslinguistic comparison of spatial construals of time. Cognitive Science 30. 401–450). Whereas Time in the Aymara model does not “move”, the present data show that Time in Vietnamese can “approach” from behind the Ego and “continue forward” into the past. To our knowledge, no other language has been identified with a model where Time moves from behind Ego to in front. Recognition of this model in Vietnamese will open up new research opportunities, particularly since the model does not seem to be endangered in Vietnamese.

Keywords: time metaphor; gesture; Vietnamese; Aymara


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About the article

Received: 2015-06-19

Revised: 2015-12-23

Accepted: 2016-02-11

Published Online: 2016-04-07

Published in Print: 2016-05-01

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 27, Issue 2, Pages 205–233, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0066.

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