Linguistic Relativity in Conceptual Metaphors

Chapter
Part of the The Bilingual Mind and Brain Book Series book series (BMBBS)

Abstract

Language is essential to human life, such as describing objects or events and sharing ideas with others. One of the most central questions in linguistics and cognitive psychology is whether language influences human cognition, which has been investigated in various domains such as color, space, and number. Recently, some researchers investigated the influence of language on the processing of conceptual metaphors, such as space–pitch metaphor and space–time metaphor. In this selective review, we first present the background of the linguistic relativity hypothesis, the Conceptual Metaphor Theory, and the relationship between bilingualism, conceptual metaphor, and embodiment. Then, we focus on space–time metaphor, a type of conceptual metaphor to depict the impact of bilinguals’ spatial language on their mental representation of time. Despite the mixed evidence in the literature, most of the current findings supported the linguistic relativity hypothesis that spatial language does have an impact on bilinguals’ mental representation of time. We conclude by providing a tentative answer to the effect of linguistic relativity on conceptual metaphor processing and bringing up some questions that will lead to future research.

Keywords

Bilingualism Conceptual metaphor Embodiment Linguistic relativity Space–time metaphor 

References

  1. Au, T. K.-F. (1983). Chinese and English counterfactuals: The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis revisited. Cognition, 15, 155–187.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Barsalou, L. W. (1999). Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 577–660.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Barsalou, L. W. (2003). Situated simulation in the human conceptual system. Language and Cognitive Processes, 18, 513–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barsalou, L. W. (2008). Grounded cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 617–645.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bender, A., Beller, S., & Bennardo, G. (2010). Temporal frames of reference: Conceptual analysis and empirical evidence from German, English, mandarin Chinese and Tongan. Journal of Cognition & Culture, 10, 283–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bergen, B. K., & Lau, T. C. (2012). Writing direction affects how people map space onto time. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 109. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00109 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Berlin, B., & Kay, P. (1969). Basic color terms: Their universality and evolution. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  8. Boot, I., & Pecher, D. (2010). Representation of categories metaphorical use of the container schema. Experimental Psychology, 58, 162–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boroditsky, L. (2000). Metaphoric structuring: Understanding time through spatial metaphors. Cognition, 75, 1–28.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Boroditsky, L. (2001). Does language shape thought? Mandarin and English speakers’ conceptions of time. Cognitive Psychology, 43, 1–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Boroditsky, L. (2011). How language shapes thought. Scientific American, 304, 62–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Boroditsky, L., Fuhrman, O., & McCormick, K. (2011). Do English and Mandarin speakers think about time differently? Cognition, 118, 123–129.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Boroditsky, L., & Gaby, A. (2010). Remembrances of times east: Absolute spatial representations of time in an Australian aboriginal community. Psychological Science, 21, 1635–1639.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Boroditsky, L., & Ramscar, M. (2002). The roles of body and mind in abstract thought. Psychological Science, 13, 185–189.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Brown, P. (2012). Time and space in Tzeltal: Is the future uphill? Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 212. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00212 PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Cai, Z. G., Connell, L., & Holler, J. (2013). Time does not flow without language: Spatial distance affects temporal duration regardless of movement or direction. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20, 973–980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Casasanto, D. (2008). Who’s afraid of the big bad Whorf? Crosslinguistic differences in temporal language and thought. Language Learning, 58, 63–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Casasanto, D. (2009). When is a linguistic metaphor a conceptual metaphor? In V. Evans & S. Pourcel (Eds.), New directions in cognitive linguistics (Vol. 24, pp. 127–145).Google Scholar
  19. Casasanto, D. (2012). Whorfian hypothesis in Oxford bibliographies online: Anthropology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Casasanto, D., & Boroditsky, L. (2008). Time in the mind: Using space to think about time. Cognition, 106, 579–593.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Casasanto, D., Boroditsky, L., Phillips, W., Greene, J., Goswami, S., Bocanegra-Thiel, S., et al. (2004). How deep are effects of language on thought? Time estimation in speakers of English, Indonesian, Greek, and Spanish. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference Cognitive Science Society.Google Scholar
  22. Casasanto, D., & Bottini, R. (2014). Mirror reading can reverse the flow of time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 473–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chan, T. T., & Bergen, B. (2005). Writing direction influences spatial cognition. In Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.Google Scholar
  24. Chen, J.-Y. (2007). Do Chinese and English speakers think about time differently? Failure of replicating Boroditsky (2001). Cognition, 104, 427–436.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Chen, J.-Y., Friederich, M., & Shu, H. (2013). Whether Chinese speakers think about time more vertically depends on their immediate and lifetime experience of reading horizontal or vertical texts: Evidence from contextual priming. In Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.Google Scholar
  26. Chen, J.-Y., & O’Seaghdha, P. G. (2013). Do Mandarin and English speakers think about time differently? Review of existing evidence and some new data. Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 41, 338–358.Google Scholar
  27. Crawford, L. E., Margolies, S. M., Drake, J. T., & Murphy, M. E. (2006). Affect biases memory of location: Evidence for the spatial representation of affect. Cognition & Emotion, 20, 1153–1169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dolscheid, S., Hunnius, S., Casasanto, D., & Majid, A. (2014). Prelinguistic infants are sensitive to space-pitch associations found across cultures. Psychological Science, 25, 1256–1261.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Dolscheid, S., Shayan, S., Majid, A., & Casasanto, D. (2013). The thickness of musical pitch: Psychophysical evidence for linguistic relativity. Psychological Science, 24, 613–621.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Dong, W. (2004). The Chinese conceptualization of time revisited. Contemporary Linguistics, 6, 189–190.Google Scholar
  31. Fedden, S., & Boroditsky, L. (2012). Spatialization of time in Mian. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 485. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00485 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Franklin, A., & Davies, I. R. L. (2004). New evidence for infant colour categories. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22, 349–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Franklin, A., Drivonikou, G. V., Bevis, L., Davies, I. R. L., Kay, P., & Regier, T. (2008). Categorical perception of color is lateralized to the right hemisphere in infants, but to the left hemisphere in adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105, 3221–3225.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Fuhrman, O., & Boroditsky, L. (2007). Mental time-lines follow writing direction: Comparing English and Hebrew speakers. In Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.Google Scholar
  35. Fuhrman, O., & Boroditsky, L. (2010). Cross-cultural differences in mental representations of time: Evidence from an implicit nonlinguistic task. Cognitive Science, 34, 1430–1451.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Fuhrman, O., McCormick, K., Chen, E., Jiang, H., Shu, D., Mao, S., et al. (2011). How linguistic and cultural forces shape conceptions of time: English and Mandarin time in 3D. Cognitive Science, 35, 1305–1328.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Gaby, A. (2012). The Thaayorre think of time like they talk of space. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 300. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00300 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Gentner, D., & Bowdle, B. (2008). Metaphor as structure-mapping. In R. Gibbs (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought (pp. 109–128). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gentner, D., Imai, M., & Boroditsky, L. (2002). As time goes by: Evidence for two systems in processing space time metaphors. Language and Cognitive Processes, 17, 537–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gibbs, R. W. (1994). The poetics of mind: Figurative thought, language, and understanding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Gibbs, R. W., Costa Lima, P. L., & Francozo, E. (2004). Metaphor is grounded in embodied experience. Journal of Pragmatics, 36, 1189–1210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Gilbert, A. L., Regier, T., Kay, P., & Ivry, R. B. (2006). Whorf hypothesis is supported in the right visual field but not the left. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103, 489–494.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Gozli, D. G., Chow, A., Chasteen, A. L., & Pratt, J. (2013). Valence and vertical space: Saccade trajectory deviations reveal metaphorical spatial activation. Visual Cognition, 21, 628–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hardin, C., & Banaji, M. R. (1993). The influence of language on thought. Social Cognition, 11, 277–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hauk, O., Johnsrude, I., & Pulvermuller, F. (2004). Somatotopic representation of action words in human motor and premotor cortex. Neuron, 41, 301–307.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Heider, E. R. (1972). Universals in color naming and memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 93, 10–20.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Heider, E. R., & Olivier, D. C. (1972). The structure of the color space in naming and memory for two languages. Cognitive Psychology, 3, 337–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Heider, K. G. (1970). The Dugum Dani. New York: Aldine.Google Scholar
  49. Horstmann, G. (2010). Tone-affect compatibility with affective stimuli and affective responses. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 2239–2250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Huang, Y., & Tse, C.-S. (2015). Re-examining the automaticity and directionality of the activation of the spatial-valence “Good is Up” metaphoric association. PLoS One, 10, e0123371. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123371 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  51. Hunt, E., & Agnoli, F. (1991). The Whorfian hypothesis: A cognitive psychology perspective. Psychological Review, 98, 377–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. January, D., & Kako, E. (2007). Re-evaluating evidence for linguistic relativity: Reply to Boroditsky (2001). Cognition, 104, 417–426.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Kay, P., & Kempton, W. (1984). What is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? American Anthropologist, 86, 65–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Kövecses, Z. (2005). Metaphor in culture: Universality and variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lai, V. T., & Boroditsky, L. (2013). The immediate and chronic influence of spatio-temporal metaphors on the mental representations of time in English, Mandarin, and Mandarin-English speakers. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 142. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00142 PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  56. Lai, V. T., Rodriguez, G. G., & Narasimhan, B. (2014). Thinking-for-speaking in early and late bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17, 139–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lakoff, G. (1993). The contemporary theory of metaphor. In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and thought (Vol. 2, 2nd ed., pp. 202–251). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by (Vol. 111). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  59. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  60. Levinson, S. C. (2003). Space in language and cognition: Explorations in cognitive diversity (Vol. 5). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Louwerse, M., & Jeuniaux, P. (2008). Language comprehension is both embodied and symbolic. In M. de Vega, A. Glenberg, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Symbols, embodiment, and meaning (pp. 309–326). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Louwerse, M., & Jeuniaux, P. (2010). The linguistic and embodied nature of conceptual processing. Cognition, 114, 96–104.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Meier, B. P., & Robinson, M. D. (2004). Why the sunny side is up: Associations between affect and vertical position. Psychological Science, 15, 243–247.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Merritt, D. J., Casasanto, D., & Brannon, E. M. (2010). Do monkeys think in metaphors? Representations of space and time in monkeys and humans. Cognition, 117, 191–202.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  65. Miles, L. K., Tan, L., Noble, G. D., Lumsden, J., & Macrae, C. N. (2011). Can a mind have two time lines? Exploring space-time mapping in mandarin and English speakers. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 598–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Niedenthal, P. M., Barsalou, L. W., Winkielman, P., Krauth-Gruber, S., & Ric, F. (2005). Embodiment in attitudes, social perception, and emotion. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9, 184–211.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Núñez, R., Cooperrider, K., Doan, D., & Wassmann, J. (2012). Contours of time: Topographic construals of past, present, and future in the Yupno valley of Papua New Guinea. Cognition, 124, 25–35.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Ostinelli, M., Luna, D., & Ringberg, T. (2013). When up brings you down: The effects of imagined vertical movements on motivation, performance, and consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24, 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ouellet, M., Santiago, J., Israeli, Z., & Gabay, S. (2010). Is the future the right time? Experimental Psychology, 57, 308–314.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Ozgen, E., & Davies, I. R. L. (1998). Turkish color terms: Tests of Berlin and Kay’s theory of color universals and linguistic relativity. Linguistics, 36, 919–956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Piaget, J., & Inhelder, B. (1972). The psychology of the child (Vol. 5001). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  72. Roberson, D., & Davidoff, J. (2000). The categorical perception of colors and facial expressions: The effect of verbal interference. Memory & Cognition, 28, 977–986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Roberson, D., Davies, I., & Davidoff, J. (2000). Color categories are not universal: Replications and new evidence from a stone-age culture. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 129, 369–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Roberson, D., Pak, H., & Hanley, J. R. (2008). Categorical perception of colour in the left and right visual field is verbally mediated: Evidence from Korean. Cognition, 107, 752–762.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Scott, A. (1989). The vertical dimension and time in Mandarin. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 9, 295–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Shayan, S., Ozturk, O., Bowerman, M., & Majid, A. (2014). Spatial metaphor in language can promote the development of cross-modal mappings in children. Developmental Science, 17, 636–643.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Smith, E. R., & Semin, G. N. R. (2004). Socially situated cognition: Cognition in its social context. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 53–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Smith, L. B. (2005). Cognition as a dynamic system: Principles from embodiment. Developmental Review, 25, 278–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Tse, C.-S., & Altarriba, J. (2008). Evidence against linguistic relativity in Chinese and English: A case study of spatial and temporal metaphors. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 8, 335–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Tse, C.-S., Kurby, C. A., & Du, F. (2010). Perceptual simulations and linguistic representations have differential effects on speeded relatedness judgments and recognition memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 928–941.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Ulrich, R., & Maienborn, C. (2010). Left-right coding of past and future in language: The mental timeline during sentence processing. Cognition, 117, 126–138.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  82. Walker, P., Bremner, J. G., Mason, U., Spring, J., Mattock, K., Slater, A., et al. (2010). Preverbal infants’ sensitivity to synaesthetic cross-modality correspondences. Psychological Science, 21, 21–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Weger, U. W., Meier, B. P., Robinson, M. D., & Inhoff, A. W. (2007). Things are sounding up: Affective influences on auditory tone perception. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 517–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Weger, U. W., & Pratt, J. (2008). Time flies like an arrow: Space-time compatibility effects suggest the use of a mental timeline. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15, 426–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wilson, M. (2002). Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 625–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Winawer, J., Witthoft, N., Frank, M. C., Wu, L., Wade, A. R., & Boroditsky, L. (2007). Russian blues reveal effects of language on color discrimination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104, 7780–7785.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  87. Zwaan, R. A., & Yaxley, R. H. (2003). Spatial iconicity affects semantic relatedness judgments. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 10, 954–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education, Centre for Advancement of Chinese Language Education and ResearchUniversity of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Educational PsychologyThe Chinese University of Hong Kong, KongShatinHong Kong
  3. 3.Centre for Learning Sciences and TechnologiesThe Chinese University of Hong Kong, KongShatinHong Kong

Personalised recommendations