Research on time conceptualization has long been devoted to the spatialization of time as evidenced in everyday metaphorical expressions such as, e.g., “We are approaching Christmas” and “Christmas is approaching”. Such expressions have been widely analyzed across languages in terms of Conceptual Metaphor Theory, the latter suggesting that such expressions are grounded in cross-domain mappings (so-called conceptual metaphors) between space and time (Lakoff & Johnson 1980, Lakoff & Johnson 1999, Lakoff 1993). At the same time, it has been proposed that poetic metaphors of time are also grounded in, and elaborate on, such spatial patterns for the conceptualization of time (Lakoff & Turner 1989). This talk will focus on the spatial patterns used in the conceptualization of time in Modern Greek with the aim to offer a unified account of conventional and creative metaphors of time alike. For the study of conventional metaphors the data have been drawn from a general corpus of Modern Greek, namely the Hellenic National Corpus (HNC). However, in order to enable the investigation of non-conventional metaphors of time a small, specialized corpus of Modern Greek poetry was designed and compiled to serve specifically the needs of the study. After presenting data collection and corpus compilation, the talk will embark on the analysis of the data, drawing on analytical tools in cognitive linguistics and cognitive poetics, the latter being a newly developed and blossoming branch in literary studies that applies insights from cognitive linguistics to the study of literature. Specifically, it will be suggested that, as expected, the conceptual structure of time in Modern Greek is evidenced in linguistically entrenched spatio-temporal metaphors. In poetic discourse, however, non-conventional metaphors of time are attested, which either exploit spatial frames in ways that diverge from everyday metaphors or override spatial patterns, thus introducing ad hoc metaphorical mappings. The proposed analysis argues for the need to use the analytical tools offered by Conceptual Integration, or Blending, Theory (Fauconnier & Turner 2002, 2008), which, unlike Conceptual Metaphor Theory, can adequately explain emergent meaning that arises in both conventional and non-conventional metaphors of time. Focusing on Modern Greek as a case study, this talk will also touch upon the implications of the analysis for the study of space, time, and metaphor across languages while it lends itself to cross-linguistic comparison with other languages. On the whole, the present study points to an interdisciplinary line of research that integrates insights from cognitive linguistics, cognitive poetics, and corpus research. In doing so, it aims to deepen our understanding of time conceptualization and metaphor not only synchronically but also diachronically.


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  • Lakoff, G., “The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor”, in: Andrew Ortony (ed.) Metaphor and Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993
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  • Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M., “Philosophy in the Flesh”, New York: Basic Books, 1999
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