'Uphill' and 'downhill' in Tzeltal
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C.
'Uphill' and 'downhill' in Tzeltal. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 3
(1), 46-74. doi:10.1525/jlin.1922.214.171.124.
In the face of the prevailing assumption among cognitive scientists that human spatial cognition is essentially egocentric, with objects located in reference to the orientation of ego's own body (hence left/right, up/down, and front/back oppositions), the Mayan language Tzeltal provides a telling counterexample. This article examines a set of conceptual oppositions in Tzeltal, uphill/downhill/across, that provides an absolute system of coordinates with respect to which the location of objects and their trajectories on both micro and macro scales are routinely described.