Space and Time in Languages and Cultures. Language, culture, and cognition
This is an interdisciplinary volume that focuses on the central topic of the representation of events, namely cross-cultural differences in representing time and space, as well as various aspects of the conceptualisation of space and time. It brings together research on space and time from a variety of angles, both theoretical and methodological. Crossing boundaries between and among disciplines such as linguistics, psychology, philosophy, or anthropology forms a creative platform in a bold attempt to reveal the complex interaction of language, culture, and cognition in the context of human communication and interaction.
The authors address the nature of spatial and temporal constructs from a number of perspectives, such as cultural specificity in determining time intervals in an Amazonian culture, distinct temporalities in a specific Mongolian hunter community, Russian-specific conceptualisation of temporal relations, Seri and Yucatec frames of spatial reference, memory of events in space and time, and metaphorical meaning stemming from perception and spatial artefacts, to name but a few themes.
The chapter explores the semantics and pragmatics of the Russian temporal syntactic phraseme ‘X to X,’ (a construction characterized by a semantically restricted set of lexical items able to fill in its syntactic variables) which expresses either the speaker’s surprise at the fact that events go as planned (surprising punctuality interpretation) or the speaker’s surprise at the fact that unplanned events go as if they had been pre-planned (surprising fateful coincidence interpretation). While the construction is not unique, and occurs in other languages, its preferred interpretations are language-specific. The chapter demonstrates differences between Russian and English outlooks on time, based on their fundamental differences in linguistic worldviews. According to one of the central key ideas of the Russian linguistic worldview, events are difficult for human subjects to control, as they are commonly controlled by outside forces, such as fate, and therefore surprising punctuality interpretation prevails in Russian. English, which does not view punctuality as something out of the ordinary, favours the surprising fateful coincidence interpretation of this syntactic phraseme. The idea of fate in relation to temporality is also found in other languages, as demonstrated by Bernard Charlier’s research on Mongolian temporality in his chapter in the current volume.