Enduring moments: The extended present in Chinese speakers' orientation to event time

Jenn-Yeu Chen, Jui Ju Su, Padraig G. O'Seaghdha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Expectations and judgments about the flow of time appear to be cognitively and culturally malleable. Here we explored the possibility that this malleability is responsive to relevant linguistic influences. Specifically, we hypothesized that an extended present time frame, which compresses imminent and completed events into the present, is the default for speakers of tenseless languages. We examined descriptions and judgments of pictured actions by speakers of Chinese, a tenseless language, and of English, a tensed language. Experiment 1 elicited verbal descriptions of imminent, ongoing, and completed actions. Overall, Chinese descriptions adhered less closely to the implicit tri-phasic temporal framing than English ones (64% vs. 88%), instead showing a strong tendency to describe most events as ongoing. Although this tendency among Chinese speakers was easily adjusted when the tri-phasic temporal framework was imposed through instructions (Experiment 2), nonlinguistic tasks yielded data consistent with the extended present view. In Experiment 3, Chinese speakers produced a narrower time window (distance between the imminent and completion time points) than English speakers when they were asked to mark on a time line the points of occurrence for imminent, ongoing, and completed actions. Conversely, Experiment 4 showed that Chinese speakers produced a wider, extended time window than English speakers when they were asked to mark the actual durations of actions. Taken together, the results indicate that, in the domain of simple episodic actions, the absence of tense in Chinese leads speakers to focus by default on temporal continuity as opposed to temporal segmentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-103
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan 1

Fingerprint

event
present
Experiments
experiment
language
Linguistics
time
continuity
instruction
linguistics
Experiment
Language
English Speakers

Keywords

  • Aspect
  • Cross-linguistic analysis
  • Extended present
  • Linguistic relativity
  • Tense
  • Time processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

Cite this

Enduring moments : The extended present in Chinese speakers' orientation to event time. / Chen, Jenn-Yeu; Su, Jui Ju; O'Seaghdha, Padraig G.

In: Journal of Pragmatics, Vol. 45, No. 1, 01.01.2013, p. 90-103.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chen, Jenn-Yeu ; Su, Jui Ju ; O'Seaghdha, Padraig G. / Enduring moments : The extended present in Chinese speakers' orientation to event time. In: Journal of Pragmatics. 2013 ; Vol. 45, No. 1. pp. 90-103.
@article{baa116b920ab4d318cd65e5795665714,
title = "Enduring moments: The extended present in Chinese speakers' orientation to event time",
abstract = "Expectations and judgments about the flow of time appear to be cognitively and culturally malleable. Here we explored the possibility that this malleability is responsive to relevant linguistic influences. Specifically, we hypothesized that an extended present time frame, which compresses imminent and completed events into the present, is the default for speakers of tenseless languages. We examined descriptions and judgments of pictured actions by speakers of Chinese, a tenseless language, and of English, a tensed language. Experiment 1 elicited verbal descriptions of imminent, ongoing, and completed actions. Overall, Chinese descriptions adhered less closely to the implicit tri-phasic temporal framing than English ones (64{\%} vs. 88{\%}), instead showing a strong tendency to describe most events as ongoing. Although this tendency among Chinese speakers was easily adjusted when the tri-phasic temporal framework was imposed through instructions (Experiment 2), nonlinguistic tasks yielded data consistent with the extended present view. In Experiment 3, Chinese speakers produced a narrower time window (distance between the imminent and completion time points) than English speakers when they were asked to mark on a time line the points of occurrence for imminent, ongoing, and completed actions. Conversely, Experiment 4 showed that Chinese speakers produced a wider, extended time window than English speakers when they were asked to mark the actual durations of actions. Taken together, the results indicate that, in the domain of simple episodic actions, the absence of tense in Chinese leads speakers to focus by default on temporal continuity as opposed to temporal segmentation.",
keywords = "Aspect, Cross-linguistic analysis, Extended present, Linguistic relativity, Tense, Time processing",
author = "Jenn-Yeu Chen and Su, {Jui Ju} and O'Seaghdha, {Padraig G.}",
year = "2013",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.pragma.2012.10.009",
language = "English",
volume = "45",
pages = "90--103",
journal = "Journal of Pragmatics",
issn = "0378-2166",
publisher = "Elsevier",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Enduring moments

T2 - The extended present in Chinese speakers' orientation to event time

AU - Chen, Jenn-Yeu

AU - Su, Jui Ju

AU - O'Seaghdha, Padraig G.

PY - 2013/1/1

Y1 - 2013/1/1

N2 - Expectations and judgments about the flow of time appear to be cognitively and culturally malleable. Here we explored the possibility that this malleability is responsive to relevant linguistic influences. Specifically, we hypothesized that an extended present time frame, which compresses imminent and completed events into the present, is the default for speakers of tenseless languages. We examined descriptions and judgments of pictured actions by speakers of Chinese, a tenseless language, and of English, a tensed language. Experiment 1 elicited verbal descriptions of imminent, ongoing, and completed actions. Overall, Chinese descriptions adhered less closely to the implicit tri-phasic temporal framing than English ones (64% vs. 88%), instead showing a strong tendency to describe most events as ongoing. Although this tendency among Chinese speakers was easily adjusted when the tri-phasic temporal framework was imposed through instructions (Experiment 2), nonlinguistic tasks yielded data consistent with the extended present view. In Experiment 3, Chinese speakers produced a narrower time window (distance between the imminent and completion time points) than English speakers when they were asked to mark on a time line the points of occurrence for imminent, ongoing, and completed actions. Conversely, Experiment 4 showed that Chinese speakers produced a wider, extended time window than English speakers when they were asked to mark the actual durations of actions. Taken together, the results indicate that, in the domain of simple episodic actions, the absence of tense in Chinese leads speakers to focus by default on temporal continuity as opposed to temporal segmentation.

AB - Expectations and judgments about the flow of time appear to be cognitively and culturally malleable. Here we explored the possibility that this malleability is responsive to relevant linguistic influences. Specifically, we hypothesized that an extended present time frame, which compresses imminent and completed events into the present, is the default for speakers of tenseless languages. We examined descriptions and judgments of pictured actions by speakers of Chinese, a tenseless language, and of English, a tensed language. Experiment 1 elicited verbal descriptions of imminent, ongoing, and completed actions. Overall, Chinese descriptions adhered less closely to the implicit tri-phasic temporal framing than English ones (64% vs. 88%), instead showing a strong tendency to describe most events as ongoing. Although this tendency among Chinese speakers was easily adjusted when the tri-phasic temporal framework was imposed through instructions (Experiment 2), nonlinguistic tasks yielded data consistent with the extended present view. In Experiment 3, Chinese speakers produced a narrower time window (distance between the imminent and completion time points) than English speakers when they were asked to mark on a time line the points of occurrence for imminent, ongoing, and completed actions. Conversely, Experiment 4 showed that Chinese speakers produced a wider, extended time window than English speakers when they were asked to mark the actual durations of actions. Taken together, the results indicate that, in the domain of simple episodic actions, the absence of tense in Chinese leads speakers to focus by default on temporal continuity as opposed to temporal segmentation.

KW - Aspect

KW - Cross-linguistic analysis

KW - Extended present

KW - Linguistic relativity

KW - Tense

KW - Time processing

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84871617581&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84871617581&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.pragma.2012.10.009

DO - 10.1016/j.pragma.2012.10.009

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84871617581

VL - 45

SP - 90

EP - 103

JO - Journal of Pragmatics

JF - Journal of Pragmatics

SN - 0378-2166

IS - 1

ER -