Grammar – Why think about space?


All natural languages ■→spatialize, that is, relate time and physical space. Part the words we have for space work also for time, as before, in, or on. There has to be a place for a thing to take whatever time in this world, and language connects time and place.

The word spatialization comes from the Latin spatium. It meant a place, space, room or extent.

The Space Odyssey girl says her mommy is gone to shopping. She relates activity and place:
Where’s mommy?
Gone to shopping.

2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick Productions .

We people all first learn telling where objects, creatures, events, or people are. Ability to tell when things happen comes later. Orientation in physical space is primary, hence the name spatialization.

The early thinking does not vanish with maturity, and spatialization belongs well with language standards:
before the turn, might tell about a place;
before ten, might tell about a time.

Languages may differ in particular words to transact between space and time, spatialization yet remains sane and good sense also when we are grown up.

I do not mean we should change the way we talk about shopping or fishing. I mean that early stages in acquisition and learning can show some of the human cognitive ability to grasp time, place, and language, and little ones may enjoy mild and friendly guidance on salmon.

Let us try a mild brainteaser. If we compare our answers with family, friends, or other people, and get consistent results, we can consider the thing natural, even if we have never thought so far there could be anything like spatialization.

TASK 1. We have four short words and four patterns. We try to couple the patterns and the words.

Here are the four short words:
TO (as with a place: to that place);
ON (as with a ground: on this ground);
AT (as with a landmark: at that landmark);
IN (as with an area or space: in that area or space).

One match is done for us.
□ The pattern is: I have thought.
□ The short word is: TO.
All the answers show down the page.

Here are the four patterns:
A. I think.
It is my opinion that…
Generally, I believe it is…

B. I am thinking.
I am considering, deliberating;
I am wondering if…

C. I have thought.
It has been some time now, that I reckon;
It has been my opinion that…

D. I have been thinking.
It has been some time now, that I am considering…
It has been some time now, that I am wondering if…

TASK 2. Let us think if we would couple patterns and short words differently, for talking about the past or future.

E. I thought | I will think.
F. I was thinking | I will be thinking.
G. I had thought | I will have thought.
H. I had been thinking | I will have been thinking.
The results show after you scroll the picture.

I think: ON;
I am thinking: IN;
I have thought: TO;
I have been thinking: AT.
The associations can work the same for the past and the future.

Feel welcome to read more:
■→Grammatical Aspects or cognitive variables?