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Cuadernos de Lingüística de El Colegio de México

versión On-line ISSN 2007-736X


ESCOBAR, Luis  y  RAMIREZ, Italia. The past is not often left behind: gesture and the expression of time in Spanish. Cuad. Lingüíst. Col. Méx. [online]. 2020, vol.7, e147.  Epub 02-Oct-2020. ISSN 2007-736X.

Different studies have described patterns of conceptual metaphors of time in terms of space that distinguish the languages of the world. While expressions like ‘leave the past behind’ show a pattern common to languages such as Spanish and English, others, such as Aymara and Mandarine Chinese, can express the past as being in front or above the speaker, respectively. However when observing in greater detail the scope o these patterns, it is also evident that speech and gesture are components of language that do not serve the same communicative purposes. While a speaker can orally express that a future event is in front of him, he can gesturally place it on his right. In the present study, we describe gestures that are part of temporal expresions in Spanish, showing how the characterization of languages according to their different temporal-spatial frames of reference does not adequately describe the resources observed in communicative interactions. The speakers, besides some examples coming from speech and, more frequently, from writing, do not reproduce patterns like PAST-BEHIND in a conversation and, instead, they locate the events or express their properties in different zones of the symbolic space according to their perception and representation: the position of their interlocutor, the relation with other symbolic positions in the space and, in general, keys of the situational context. The results of this study resonate with other works that part from a perspective according to which the conceptual representations about time and space are not unique or fixed, but multiple and emergent, sensitive to various conditions of interacive communication. A different view on gesture is proposed, one that presents its roll in language as the expression of perceptual, iconic or metaphoric information that only occasionally intersects with the linguistic codification of time.

Palabras llave : temporal metaphors; gesture; temporal gestures; locus; frames of reference.

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