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When time is not space

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Abstract

It is widely assumed that there is a natural, prelinguistic conceptual domainof time whose linguistic organization is universally structured via metaphoricmapping from the lexicon and grammar of space and motion. We challengethis assumption on the basis of our research on the Amondawa (Tupi Kawahib)language and culture of Amazonia. Using both observational data and structuredfield linguistic tasks, we show that linguistic space-time mapping at theconstructional level is not a feature of the Amondawa language, and is notemployed by Amondawa speakers (when speaking Amondawa). Amondawadoes not recruit its extensive inventory of terms and constructions for spatialmotion and location to express temporal relations. Amondawa also lacks anumerically based calendric system. To account for these data, and in oppositionto a Universal Space-Time Mapping Hypothesis, we propose a MediatedMapping Hypothesis, which accords causal importance to the numerical andartefact-based construction of time-based (as opposed to event-based) timeinterval systems.

References

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