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Article

Time and speed: Where do speed adjectives come from?

Russian linguistics. 2013. Vol. 37. No. 3. P. 347-359.
Rakhilina E. V., Плунгян В. А.

The article examines the relationship between time and space in language on the basis of adjectives denoting high or low speed in Russian and other (mostly Slavic) languages. In physics the notion of speed is defined in terms of time and space (distance per time unit). It is argued, however, that speed in natural language is a primarily temporal concept involving the comparison of the temporal properties of a ‘target situation’ with those of a ‘norm’. Speed terms are shown to develop their own metaphors and metonymies, subsequently becoming connectors and intensifying markers. This argument has important theoretical implications insofar as it demonstrates that the domain of time is less dependent on space than the traditional view might indicate.