On the path of time: Temporal motion in typological perspective

Michele Feist*, Sarah Duffy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


The Moving Ego and Moving Time metaphors have provided a fertile testing ground for the psychological reality of space–time metaphors. Despite this, little research has targeted the linguistic patterns used in these two mappings. To fill that gap, the current study uses corpus data to examine the use of motion verbs in two typologically different languages, English and Spanish. We first investigated the relative frequency of the two metaphors. Whereas we observed no difference in frequency in the Spanish data, our findings indicated that in English, Moving Time expressions are more prevalent than are Moving Ego expressions. Second, we focused on the patterns of use of the verbs themselves, asking whether well-known typological patterns in the expression of spatial motion would carry over to temporal motion. Specifically, we examined the frequencies of temporal uses of path and manner verbs in English and in Spanish. Contra the patterns observed in space, we observed a preference for path verbs in both languages, with this preference more strongly evident in English than in Spanish. In addition, our findings revealed greater use of motion verbs in temporal expressions in Spanish compared to English. These findings begin to outline constraints on the aspects of spatial conceptualization that are likely to be reused in the conceptualization of time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-467
Number of pages24
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Issue number3
Early online date13 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


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