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>From: Muke Tever <[log in to unmask]>
>
>From: "J Y S Czhang" <[log in to unmask]>
> >     "We know where the future is. It's in front of us. Right? It lies
>before
> > us - a great future lies before us - we stride forward confidently into
>it,
> > every commencement, every election year. And we know where the past is.
> > Behind us, right? So that we have to turn around to see it, and that
> > interrupts our progress ever forward into the future, so we don't really
>much
> > like to do it.
>
>Even though English doesn't do this.. "[be]fore" and "aft[er]" (in front of
>and
>behind) go with "before" and "after" (earlier and later).
>
>Spanish does the same thing:  "antes" means "before" (both 'in front of'
>and
>'earlier').
>
>So why *do* we see "what happened before now" as abaft us, and not before
>us?
>

I think Hegelian philosophy has a lot to do with it, as did the scientific
and industrial revolutions and the subsequent expectation of progress that
came with these things.  Although, I'm betting there is also relationship
between a culture's view of time / history and it's kinship system (i.e
whether the culture concerns itself more with ancestry & lineage, or with
concurrent relationships with living or recently living people).  I suspect
those cultures with an ancestor focused system tend to have a more linear
view of history (and potentially the future), whereas those with a
"synchronically oriented" kinship system are probably more likely to have a
cyclical view, with less concern for either the future or the past.  It
would be interesting to see if there is a significant correlation between
the number and type of kinship terms in a language, and the culture's view
of time.

Andy

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