LINGUIST List 18.1512

Thu May 17 2007

Qs: Definition for Ling/Cognitive Term; Relative Temporal Adverbs

Editor for this issue: Kevin Burrows <>

Directory         1.    Bunny Richardson, Definition for Linguistic/Cognitive Term
        2.    Denis Keyer, Relative Temporal Adverbs

Message 1: Definition for Linguistic/Cognitive Term
Date: 15-May-2007
From: Bunny Richardson <>
Subject: Definition for Linguistic/Cognitive Term

I am doing listening tests involving transcription of recorded speech snippets. I noted subjects tended to extract the meaning of the snippet, when longer than 7+/- and this is due to the 'wrap-up effect', where they retain the meaning of the snippet but not the exact linguistic elements as they appeared in the snippet. I need a reference and definition for 'wrap-up effect', if possible?!

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Message 2: Relative Temporal Adverbs
Date: 15-May-2007
From: Denis Keyer <>
Subject: Relative Temporal Adverbs

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to submit a question which is partly close to the subject of the survey posted on orientational metaphors posted here:

I am collecting examples for the semantic model ''behind = osterior/future, in front of = preceding/past''. Strangely enough, this model, which seems to be attested almost in all languages of the earth, is often regarded as somewhat peculiar and not characteristic for modern people (for whom the future ''lies onward'', not ''behind'') and is explained by cultural phenomena or difference in mentality. It often stated, for example, that ancient peoples, in contrast to us, people of modernity, imagined their future BEHIND them, because it was ''unseen'' or because they respected their ancestors and so on.

In my view, such universal model must be rooted in cognition and perception of spatial and temporal concepts. The events located in time are metaphorically described in different languages as men or animals moving in the same direction: the one who is going ahead, is ''preceding'' and comes ''before'' (earlier); the one who follows in his footsteps, is ''posterior'' and comes ''afterwards'' (in some languages ''behind''). The spatial ''frame of reference'' for this model is not relative (deictic), but intrinsic: the future lies not ''behind OUR back'', but it comes behind the back OF PRECEDING EVENTS'', just as the follower is behind the back of his predecessor.

Now my questions concern the languages which are considered to have no relative spatial terms like ''front/back/right/left'' and operate with absolute terms only (like ''north/south, uphill/downhill''), that is Guugu Yimithirr in Australia, Tzeltal of Mayan Indians and Hai//om (?) in the Namibian Kalahari (I primarily depend here on excellent works by Stephen C. Levinson).

(1) Is it really so that these people have no words for ''face'' or ''back'' (say, of a human or an animal)?

(2) How do they describe preceding and posterior events? (not necessarily ''the future'' and ''the past'', but simple adverbs like ''before/after'', for example ''before breakfast'' or ''after tomorrow'').

Thank you in advance, excuse me for being garrulous. Yours sincerely Denis Keyer St. Petersburg State University

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science Semantics