This is Travis’s interesting reflection on the concepts of past and future from a multilingual point of view. Makes me reflect on the spatial-temporal location of tradition… when did tradition cease to be the future in the Western world?
Every now and then, one comes across an academic journal article that is of little relevance to one’s field, but which is quite intriguing and interesting nevertheless. I’ll be honest, I have not read all fifty pages of “With the Future Behind Them: Convergent Evidence From Aymara Language and Gesture in the Crosslinguistic Comparison of Spatial Construals of Time” by Rafael Nuñez and Eve Sweetser (Cognitive Science, vol. 30, 2006). But the basic concept is quite thought-provoking. Nuñez and Sweetser discuss Aymara, a native Amerindian language of the Andean highlands in which the past is described as being “in front” or “ahead”, and the future as “behind.” Given the way we in the Anglophone world (and, I’d imagine in most of the other dominant languages in the world today) envision time, this is an interesting concept, and perhaps somewhat difficult for us to wrap our heads around.
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