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One of the most enigmatic aspects of experience concerns time. Since pre-Socratic times scholars have speculated about the nature of time, asking questions such as: What is time? Where does it come from? Where does it go? The central proposal of The Structure of Time is that time, at base, constitutes a phenomenologically real experience. Drawing on findings in psychology, neuroscience, and utilising the perspective of cognitive linguistics, this work argues that our experience of time may ultimately derive from perceptual processes, which in turn enable us to perceive events. As such, temporal experience is a pre-requisite for abilities such as event perception and comparison, rather than an abstraction based on such phenomena. This book represents an examination of the nature of temporal cognition with two foci: i) an investigation into (pre-conceptual) temporal experience, and ii) an analysis of temporal structure at the conceptual level (which derives from temporal experience).

Download the entire PDF version of the book, here.

Table of contents


I. Orientation
1. The problem of time
2. The phenomenology of time
3. Th elaboration of temporal concepts
4. The nature of meaning
5. The conceptual metaphor approach to time
6. A theory of word-meaning: Principled polysemy

II. Concepts for time
7. The Duration Sense
8. The Moment Sense
9. The Instance Sense
10. The Event Sense
11. The Matrix Sense
12. The Agentive Sense
13. The Measurement-system Sense
14. The Commodity Sense
15. The Present, Past and Future


III. Models for time
16. Time, motion and agency
17. Two complex cognitive models of temporality
18. A third complex model of temporality
19. Time in modern physics
20. The structure of time



“Time belongs to the bedrock of human cognition. Beginning before birth and remaining for the most part below the horizon of consciousness, temporal cognition is a mystery not easily penetrated. The Structure of Time is an indispensable investigation, rich in theory and examples, into the phenomenology and the linguistics of the way we think about time.”
Mark Turner, Institute Professor, Case Western Reserve University

“With this work, Cognitive Linguistics finally turns its attention from Space to Time.”
Jordan Zlatev, Lund University, Sweden

“This work is interesting, creative, thought-provoking, and timely (no pun intended)”
Wallace Chafe, University of California at Santa Barbara

“[...] thought provoking and inspiring. It is a valuable interdisciplinary source for insight in several domains, including lexical semantics, conceptual metaphor theory, and cognitive science in the area of time.”
Thora Tenbrink, University of Bremen , Germany , on Linguist List 15-2430 (2004)

“ In general, the style of the book is very accessible, especially in view of the fact that so many different fields are touched upon. The conclusions at the end of each chapter additionally contribute to the reader's comprehension. The book is therefore accessible not only to linguistics and cognitive scientists but to researchers from any field interested in the phenomenon of time.”
Nadja Nesselhauf, Univeristy of Heidelberg , in Anglistik 16(1), 2005

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