Representing time in terms of space: Directions of mental timelines in Norwegian


People often use spatial vocabulary to describe temporal relations, and this has increasingly motivated attempts to map spatial frames of reference (FoRs) onto time. How people assign FRONT to time and to temporal entities depends on cultural conventions, and is crucial for diagnosing which temporal FoR a person actually adopts. Here, we report findings from a survey with speakers of Norwegian that aimed at assessing the cultural conventions involved in FRONT assignment. Data on temporal movements of events, on the temporal order of events, and on explicit FRONT assignments to events, time units, and “time itself” suggest that participants use different principles for describing fixed relations (static time) versus moving events (dynamic time).

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