How Much of the FUTURE Is BEHIND in Arabic? A View on the Arabic Culture and Embodiment


  • Maisarah M. Almirabi Umm Al-Qura University



metaphors, conceptual metaphor theory, cognitive linguistics, Hijazi Saudi, Arabic, future is behind


In the present study, the Arabic metaphorical expressions associated with the conceptual metaphors TIME IS SPACE and THE FUTURE IS BEHIND were analyzed. The analyzed tokens were searched for online. In addition, native speakers of Hijazi-Saudi Arabic confirmed the natural usage of the tokens in their dialect. The productivity of placing the FUTURE in front of the EGO and the unproductivity of placing it behind indicates the FUTURE in front of the EGO as the norm. Based on the metaphorical elements found in the tokens considered, a bidimensional conceptual location of objects on the JOURNEY OF TIME was proposed to include the front location or the elsewhere location. The elsewhere location was referred to as behind, extending the meaning of ‘behind’ to include all locations that are not front. This bidimensionality is represented by the conceptual metaphors FOCUS IS FRONT and PERIPHERY IS BEHIND. Examples associated with these conceptual metaphors were associated with the experiential embodiment. In previous research, the direction of writing and how much weight is given to cultural values have claimed to influence the placement of the FUTURE in Arabic as pre-set reasons. This study is significant because it is done without pre-set reasons for metaphor usage, resulting in none-steered findings. Also, this study opens a window to the metaphorical system of the Hijazi-Saudi Arabic, a variety of Arabic whose metaphorical system is understudied. This study invites considering the placement of the FUTURE in other languages and cultures.

Author Biography

Maisarah M. Almirabi, Umm Al-Qura University

Department of English


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