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The Language of Time

The top trumps of time: Factors motivating the resolution of temporal ambiguity. (With Sarah Duffy). Published 2016 in Language & Cognition.

What factors motivate our understanding of metaphoric statements about time?The findings we report on shed
further light on the complex nature of temporal reasoning. While this involves conceptual metaphor, it also invokes more complex temporal frames of reference (t-FoRs) (Evans, 2013), which are only partially
subserved by space-to-time conceptual metaphors.

Temporal frames of reference. Published 2013. Cognitive Linguistics, 24/3:393-435.

This paper develops a taxonomy of temporal frames of reference (t-FoRs), providing arguments to support my claim that they have psychological reality.  The arguments are based on a review of findings from neuroscience and experimental psychology, as well as an original analysis of the linguistic manifestations of t-FoRs in English.  I propose three kinds of t-FoRs: deictic, sequential and extrinsic. 

Simulation Semantics and the Linguistics of Time – A Response to Zwaan.  Published 2008. In P. Indefrey & M. Gullberg (eds.). The cognitive and neural prerequisites of time in language.  Language Learning 58:Suppl. 1, pp. 27–33.  

In this short commentary, I respond to the simulation semantics agenda as presented by Zwaan.  My overall point is that before we can speculate on the relationship between the role of visuo-motoric simulations (sensory-motor resonances) in language understanding in the domain of time, we must first get some basic issues straight with respect to i) language, ii) the relationship between language and temporality, and iii) the role of language in meaning construction. 


The Meaning of Time: Polysemy, the Lexicon and Conceptual Structure.  Published 2005. Journal of Linguistics, 41.1, 33-75. 

This paper argues that the lexeme time consitutes a lexical category of distinct senses instantiated in the mental lexicon.  Three criteria are provided which serve to distinguish between distinct senses and context-dependent readings.  The view presented is contrasted with other theories of word-meaning, including Pustejovsky (1995) and Lakoff (1987).

How We Conceptualise Time:  Language, Meaning and Temporal Cognition.  Published 2004. Essays in Arts and Sciences, XXXIII, No. 2, pp. 13-44.  Issue Theme: TIME.  Issue editor Mirjana N. Dedaic.  Reprinted in The Cognitive Linguistics Reader (2007).  Edited by V. Evans, B. Bergen and J. Zinken.  London: Equinox. 

This paper provides a descriptive overview of the nature of our conceptual representation for time.  This is organised at two levels, the level of 'lexical concepts', which is to say a concept represented by a single word or fixed expression, and the level of 'cognitive models'.  This is a level of organisation in which various lexical concepts are integrated together with their conventional patterns of imagery, termed 'concept elaboration', in order to provide complex, yet coherent representations of time.  Evidence is presented for both levels of organisation.

The Relation Between Experience, Conceptual Structure and Meaning: Non-temporal Uses of Tense and Language Teaching. (With Andrea Tyler). 2001. In M. Puetz, S. Niemeier and R. Dirven (eds.).  Applied Cognitive Linguistics I: Theory and Language Acquisition,  63-108. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 

Presents a survey of non-temporal meanings of English tense. Proposals are made for the cognitive-pragmatic interaction which has led to time-reference having developed new semantic-pragmatic functions, such as politeness, epistemic stance, etc. Also considers the implication of the analysis for language teaching.

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