Language experience influences the conceptualization of TIME metaphor

Lai, V. T. (2005). Language experience influences the conceptualization of TIME metaphor. In Proceedings of the II Conference on Metaphor in Language and Thought, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 17-20, 2005.
This paper examines the language-specific aspect of the TIME PASSING IS MOTION metaphor and suggests that the temporal construal of time can be influenced by a person's second language. Ahrens and Huang (2002) have analyzed the source domain of MOTION for the TIME metaphor into two special cases. In the special case one, TIME PASSING is an object that moves towards an ego. For example, qimuokao kuai dao le "the final exam is approaching." In the special case two, TIME PASSING is a point (that a plural ego is attached to) that moves across a landscape. For example, women kuai dao qimuokao le "we are approaching the final exam." In addition, in English, the ego in the special case one faces the future while in Chinese, the ego faces the past. The current experiment hypothesizes that English influences the choice of the orientation of the ego in native Chinese speakers who speak English as the second language. 54 subjects are asked to switch the clock time one hour forward. Results show that native Chinese speakers living in the Chinese speaking country tend to move the clock one hour forward to the past (92%) while native Chinese speakers living in an English speaking country are less likely to do so (60%). This implies that the experience of English influences the conceptualization of time in Mandarin Chinese.
Publication type
Proceedings paper
Publication date

Share this page