nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Languages and how they present time

Different languages present time differently-- some like English, put the future in front and the past in back, but others, like Aymara, put the past in front because you can see it-- you back into the future you can't see.

Chinese has a vertical axis for time, but that part of the article wasn't very clear.

"Our study showed that these language differences have psycho-physical effects in the bilingual mind: they alter the way the same individual experiences the passage of time depending on the language context they are operating in. For example, Swedish and English speakers prefer to mark the duration of events by referring to physical distances – a short break, a long party. But Greek and Spanish speakers tend to mark time by referring to physical quantities – a small break, a big party. Speakers of English and Swedish see time as a horizontal line, as distance travelled. But Spanish and Greek speakers see it as quantity, as volume taking up space.

"As a consequence, English and Swedish monolinguals estimate how much time it takes for lines to lengthen across a computer screen based on how far the lines expand. If two lines stretch to different lengths over the same time period, participants judge the shorter line to have travelled for less time than it actually did and the longer line to have travelled for more time than it actually did. Spanish and Greek monolinguals on the other hand are affected in their time estimations by physical quantity – how much a container has filled with liquid. If two containers fill up to different levels over the same time period, participants judge the container with the smaller amount to have filled in less time than it actually did and vice versa."

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