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June 16, 2006

Back to the future

I picked up this article about Aymara language and cognition via Warren Ellis but started my post before clicking through to the original article and consequently was annoyed to discover the authors got to the tag-line first. Should have gone with "Get thee in front of me, Satan!" or something to that effect.

Tell an old Aymara speaker to "face the past!" and you just might get a blank stare in return – because he or she already does. New analysis of the language and gesture of South America's indigenous Aymara people indicates a reverse concept of time.

Contrary to what had been thought a cognitive universal among humans – a spatial metaphor for chronology, based partly on our bodies' orientation and locomotion, that places the future ahead of oneself and the past behind – the Amerindian group locates this imaginary abstraction the other way around: with the past ahead and the future behind.

In fairness, whole Western political movements have been founded and continue to be inspired by much the same conviction.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 16, 2006 09:27 AM