Publication details [#410]

Yu, Ning. 2012. The metaphorical orientation of time in Chinese. Journal of Pragmatics 44 (10) : 1335–1354. 20 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


This paper studies the metaphorical time orientation in Chinese along its horizontal and vertical axes. In particular, it call attention to the debate over its horizontal axis, readdressing the issue regarding whether the Chinese ego faces toward the future or past in metaphorical orientation of time. It is important to note that there exist three different views on this issue. To reinforce the view that future is in front of ego and past is behind ego in Chinese, the paper argues that in analyzing data it is important to make two key distinctions. The first extensively discussed distinction is between Ego-Reference-Point (Ego-RP) and Time-Reference-Point (Time-RP). The second largely ignored distinction is between Time-Referent (Time-R) and Human-Referent (Human-R). The purpose of making these distinctions is to avoid confusion between past and future on the one hand and anteriority and posteriority on the other. The paper contributes to the current efforts to build a comprehensive framework of temporal reference frames applicable to the study of spatial construal of time in languages and cultures in general.