From Space to Time
Temporal Adverbials in the World's Languages
Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
The relation between space and time has fascinated linguists and philosophers for a long time. That temporal relations are derived from spatial relations in many languages through conceptual metaphor is a commonplace, but systematic studies of this phenomenon were lacking.
In this important new book, the author investigates grammatical markers of simple (non-clausal) time adverbials in a world-wide sample of 50 languages (with an unavoidable emphasis on European languages), presents a taxonomy of the systematic types of time adverbials and formulates typological generalizations about the adverbial markers (mainly adpositions and cases). For the first time, a cross-linguistically applicable terminological grid for time adverbials is developed that makes comparative research in this area possible.
The results comfirm the expectation that temporal notions overwhelmingly derive from spatial notions, in particular markers of temporal location (e.g. in March, before the meal, after the war). In fact, there are no languages that do not make use of spatial concepts for the expression of time at all, and speculations (originating in Benjamin L. Whorf's work on Hopi) that cultures differ fundamentally in their conceptualization of time are thereby refuted definively. However, not all temporal concepts are expressed by spatial markers, and temporal markers do show a tendency to become autonomous from their spatial sources. Thus, there is little linguistic evidence for the full conceptual unity of space and time.
Additional issues dealt with in this typological study are the role of deixis in temporal adverbial markers, alternatives to simple time markes where these are lacking, and grammaticalization as an explanatory factor.
The book consists of the following chapters: (1) Introduction, (2) Taxonomy of the semantic functions, (3) Theoretical issues, (4) Sequential location ('after'/'before'), (5) Sequential-durative ('since'/'until'), (6) Temporal distance ('in'/'ago'), (7) Simultaneous location ('at, in, on'), (8) Temporal extent ('for'/'in'), (9) Conclusion. An appendix containing examples of teh markers in the 50 languages allows the reader to get a full picture of the data on which this work is based.
ISBN 9783895860911. LINCOM Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 02. 171pp. 1997.