Horizontal mapping of time-related words in first and second language

Anastasia Malyshevskaya*, Martin H. Fischer, Yury Shtyrov, Andriy Myachykov

*Corresponding author for this work

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The existence of a consistent horizontal spatial-conceptual mapping for words denoting time is a well-established phenomenon. For example, words related to the past or future (e.g., yesterday/tomorrow) facilitate respective leftward/rightward attentional shifts and responses, suggesting the visual-spatial grounding of temporal semantics, at least in the native language (L1). To examine whether similar horizontal bias also accompanies access to time-related words in a second language (L2), we tested 53 Russian-English (Experiment 1) and 48 German-English (Experiment 2) bilinguals, who classified randomly presented L1 and L2 time-related words as past- or future-related using left or right response keys. The predicted spatial congruency effect was registered in all tested languages and, furthermore, was positively associated with higher L2 proficiency in Experiment 2. Our findings (1) support the notion of horizontal spatial-conceptual mapping in diverse L1s, (2) demonstrate the existence of a similar spatial bias when processing temporal words in L2, and (3) show that the strength of time-space association in L2 may depend on individual L2 proficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9675
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

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