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The Spatial Foundations of Language and Cognition$
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Kelly S. Mix, Linda B. Smith, and Michael Gasser

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553242.001.0001

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Time, Motion, and Meaning: The Experiential Basis of Abstract Thought

Time, Motion, and Meaning: The Experiential Basis of Abstract Thought

Chapter:
(p.67) 4 Time, Motion, and Meaning: The Experiential Basis of Abstract Thought
Source:
The Spatial Foundations of Language and Cognition
Author(s):

Michael Ramscar

Teenie Matlock

Lera Boroditsky

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553242.003.0004

How are abstract ideas acquired and structured? How do we gain an understanding of things we can neither see nor touch? One possible answer to these questions is that people's understanding of abstract domains is constructed using more basic, embodied or experiential knowledge that is acquired directly. For example, the abstract domain of time is often conceptualized in terms of the more concrete domains of space and motion: people talk about themselves ‘moving’ through time, or time ‘moving’ relative to them. We describe a series of studies that show that thinking about space can influence people's judgments of time. These results provide striking evidence of the intimate connections between our abstract ideas and the more concrete, experiential knowledge on which they are based.

Keywords:   spatial language, spatial cognition, temporal language, temporal cognition, mental representation

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