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Anirban Sarkar (Central University of Karnataka)
Abstract ID: 254
Topic: Language and spatial and temporal frames
General Session Papers
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Space and spatial perception is elemental to human life, involving everyday reckoning of where one is, navigating and route finding, tracking locations and travels in narratives, spatial reasoning, mapping, etc. Humans in orienting themselves in space, use their bodies’ inherent orientational properties, i.e. aligning along the axes of up/down, left/right and front/back. Now languages capture these basic distinctions by providing terms that reflect these asymmetrical elements.  This paper concerns with the nature of indicating ‘front’ along the front/back axis. The languages taken up for the study are Bengali, a language belonging to Indo-Aryan language family, and Kannada, a language belonging to Dravidian language family.  The terms for denoting ‘front’ for Bengali are ‘samneand ‘a:ge’ and for Kannada are ‘jeduru’ and ‘munde’.  Experience and embodiment of spatial arrangements play an important role in spatial cognition and the language use takes into account the different points of view.

In the spatial domain, languages have fundamentally different linguistic systems for representing spatial relations, reflecting different construal of the same bit of “reality” (Brown, 2006). In other words, the differences in perception have implications on the expressions construed for any particular situation. Hence many factors such as proximity, vantage point, specificity, etc. play important role in describing a given situation. It is worth mentioning that the choice in the usages of the words for denoting ‘front’ as location or direction has been seen as different in some situations and overlapping in some others.

The data have been collected using questionnaire for eliciting the expressions for ‘front’ for the entities, whose relationship is described in terms of Figure and Ground (Talmy, 1983;2000), from the speakers of both the above mentioned languages and analysed for the factors involved in it.


1. Brown, Penelope. 2006. Cognitive Anthropology. In Jourdan, C & K. Tuite (eds.) Language, Culture and Society. New York: Cambridge University Press.

2. Svorou, Soteria. 1994. The grammar of space. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamin Publishing Company.

3. Talmy, L. 1983. How language structures space. In Herbert L. Pick, Jr. & Linda P. Acredolo (eds.) Spatial orientation: Theory, research, and application. New York: Plenum Press.

4. Talmy,L. 2000. Cognitive Semantics, Volume I: Concept Structuring Systems. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Keywords: Space, Cognition, Embodiment, Perception, Figure and Ground