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Mental time lines across the world : how do people think about time in Hebrew, Mandarin, and English?

Author: Orly Fuhrman; Lera Boroditsky; Eve V Clark; Herbert H Clark; Stanford University. Department of Psychology.
Publisher: 2010.
Dissertation: Thesis (Ph. D.)--Stanford University, 2010.
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : eBook   Computer File : English
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Across cultures people rely on space to represent time. However, the particular spatial layout created to represent time differs across cultures, and is affected by different sources of culturo-linguistic experience. In the studies described in this dissertation I focus on two such sources of information; reading directionality and spatial metaphors. First, I show that Hebrew and English speakers consistently  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Document, Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Orly Fuhrman; Lera Boroditsky; Eve V Clark; Herbert H Clark; Stanford University. Department of Psychology.
OCLC Number: 665049493
Notes: Submitted to the Department of Psychology.
Description: 1 online resource.
Responsibility: Orly Fuhrman.

Abstract:

Across cultures people rely on space to represent time. However, the particular spatial layout created to represent time differs across cultures, and is affected by different sources of culturo-linguistic experience. In the studies described in this dissertation I focus on two such sources of information; reading directionality and spatial metaphors. First, I show that Hebrew and English speakers consistently arrange temporal sequences in a way that is congruent with their writing directionality, left to right for English speakers, and right to left for Hebrew speakers. Moreover, making judgments about earlier and later events with a key orientation that is incongruent with one's writing directionality (e.g, 'right' for earlier events in the English speaking group) creates interference, and produces slower responses. I then compare English and Mandarin speakers, to see whether the way speakers of these languages think about time reflects the way they habitually talk about it. In Mandarin, vertical metaphors of time are used more frequently and systematically than they are in English. Accordingly, the findings suggest that Mandarin speakers are faster to make temporal order judgments when the 'earlier' key is positioned on top of the 'later' key. English speakers do not show that congruency effect. Overall, the findings presented in this work suggest that culturally specific spatial representations are accessed automatically when people think about time, even in non-linguistic tasks, for temporal sequences that are not usually laid out in space in a particular directionality, and even when space is implicit to the task.

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