The Conceptual Metaphor TIME IS SPACE: A cognitive interpretation of /nâa/ ‘front’ and /lǎŋ/ ‘back’ in Thai

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ชัชวดี ศรลัมพ์


Traditionally, the view of Metaphor is a figure of speech in which one thing is compared to another by saying that one is the other. The importance of metaphor studies in cognitive linguistics maybe the result of the nature of it. In Cognitive Linguistics’ view of Metaphor by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) has challenged all these aspects of the traditional theory in a coherent and systematic way. They showed convincingly that metaphor is pervasive both in thoughts and everyday language. It is a property of concepts, not of words. Its function is to understand concepts and it is an inevitable process of human thought and reasoning. The objective of this paper is to present the conceptual metaphor of TIME IS SPACE in Thai language, which is different to other languages as they are often believed to code the future as being in front and the past as being behind. But Thai is contradictory and a very exceptional pattern. The evidence shows that Thai speakers allude to time on a horizontal axis, with the ego or events moving over the horizontal timeline. The future and past can be conceived of either in front or behind, depending on the two dimensions: (a) positions of times and (b) sequences of time units. The results provide the evidences that people use spatial metaphors in temporal reasoning and that the metaphorical relationship between space and time observed in language also exists in our mental representations.

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