Temporal language and thought: Language-specific spatial interference in time estimations

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2011
End date: 31/12/2013
Funding: 3216000 SEK


This project deals with crosslinguistic differences in temporal language and thought. Focus is set on speakers of English, Greek, Spanish, and Swedish. Whereas English and Swedish prefer distance-based spatiotemporal metaphors (e.g. "long" time), Greek and Spanish use quantity-based ditto (e.g. *mucho* tiempo, i.e.´much´ time). The project specifically aims to examine whether the use of such metaphors affects time estimations among monolingual and bilingual speakers. To this end, speakers are asked to estimate the duration of computeranimated growing lines (representing distance) and filling containers (representing quantity). Preliminary results from our own and others´ studies have shown that speakers of *distance languages* are mislead by the growth of the lines, estimating longer time intervals for longer lines. The reverse pattern is found for speakers of quantity languages. The current project will nuance these findings by examining the specific condition under which language-specific spatial interference occurs, and extend this line of research to the domain of bilingualism, specifically studying how language-specific patterns interact in the bilingual mind and the factors (e.g. age of acquisition and language use) that modulate this outcome. With its focus on bilingual speakers, the project will show how the acquisition a language may alter the perception of reality. Knowledge about this process is particularly important in our increasingly multilingual society.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:02