What does the way we talk and write say about how we relate to time? Prof. dr. Henriëtte de Swart looks at time through the lens of linguistics. Discover what the grammar of time can reveal about the human experience of time.
Time is elusive. Some people have it, others are always running short of it. Sometimes it flies by and yet there are periods which seem to drag on and on. The fascinating thing is that we cannot observe or measure time directly; we can only infer it by changes we experience. How can we actually understand this intriguing and complex concept? Explore divergent ways of approaching time and see how different disciplines explain the human perception of time. Are different realms at odds with each other with regard to their view of time, or do they merely reflect different and complimentary ways of observing the same? Join Studium Generale for a reflection on time from the perspectives of linguistics, philosophy, biology, and cultural anthropology.
Time in Language
Language is all about time if you really think about it. Our daily language is full of expressions that refer to the past or the future (‘let’s meet next Wednesday’), or that rely on cyclic time (‘we go on vacation every summer’). Perhaps you recognize the feeling of being drawn into a novel. It is precisely the way in which language expresses time that carries one through a text. Examining the way we use language is a fascinating way to learn about our relationship with time. As language is uniquely human, it provides a window on how we perceive and experience time. But the fact that languages of the world vary in their expression of time complicates the picture. Are there universal principles that underlie this linguistic diversity, is there a common thread? Henriëtte de Swart explores what the grammar of time, combined with insights from other fields such as philosophy and psychology, can tell us about the shared human experience of time.
About Henriëtte de Swart
Henriëtte de Swart is professor of French linguistics and semantics at Utrecht University. She builds grammatical models that link variation in meaning across languages to general principles of human cognition.