Space-Time Mapping in Turkish: A Corpus-Based, Crosslinguistic Investigation

Creative Commons License

Kumcu A.

in: Linguistics, Cross-Cultural Perspectives, F. Büşra Süverdem,Selen Tekinalp, Editor, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., Berlin, pp.29-49, 2022

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
  • City: Berlin
  • Page Numbers: pp.29-49
  • Editors: F. Büşra Süverdem,Selen Tekinalp, Editor
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Space and time are the most central and closely related domains of human cognition. While our embodied spatial experience is considered as relatively more concrete and perceptually richer, time and accordingly, temporal understanding is abstract and elusive in nature. When speaking about time as an abstract concept, language users refer to space/motion as a more concrete domain with well-established metaphors such as the passing of time is motion among many others. In most languages, the metaphorical grounding of time in space involves an understanding of time as a horizontal line with two perspectives: “moving-time” and “moving-ego”. The moving-time perspective assumes a mental schema in which the individual observes flowing time as in “the new year is coming up”. As per the moving-ego perspective, the individual is moving on the timeline where the future is typically in front of and the past is behind her/him as in “we are approaching the new year”. This corpus-based study investigates the weight of moving-time and moving-ego patterns in Turkish with two verbal adjectives representing the two canonical perspectives, that is, geçen – “[time word] that passes” and geçtiğimiz – “[time word] that we pass”, respectively. 5,058 concordances associated with the two lexemes were extracted from the Turkish National Corpus. Concordances were then inspected for the instances of spacetime mapping based on a list of predefined temporal words to occupy the target domain. All occurrences were annotated according to their semantic sphere (i.e. metaphorical time, metaphorical motion, and literal motion). Chi-square and binomial tests comparing the token, type, and hapax legomena frequencies per semantic domain showed that based on the selected lexemes, the ego-moving perspective was significantly more frequent than the time-moving perspective in Turkish in contrast to many other languages. Importantly, the metaphorical use of both lexemes in the temporal domain dominates over their nontemporal use in the spatial domain even though space and motion lie at the semantic core of geçmek – “to pass” in Turkish. The findings are expected to lay a basis for experimental studies to compare the processing ease of time-moving and ego-moving frames in Turkish, a critically understudied language in terms of space-time mapping.