Nissan Seminar: Spatial Description Perspectives in Contemporary Japanese

Convenor(s): Dr Jennifer L. Guest, Dr Linda Flores, and Professor Bjarke Frellesvig

Speaker(s): Maria Telegina, Project Assistant Professor, Tokyo College, the University of Tokyo

These seminars will occur live and will not be recorded. Unauthorized recording is strictly prohibited.

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Spatial Description Perspectives in Contemporary Japanese


Maria Telegina is a Project Assistant Professor at Tokyo College, Tokyo University. Currently, she is working on her book project Time and Space in Contemporary Japanese. Her other ongoing projects GO-TO-TO. Why hima (‘free time’) is bad and ushiro (‘back’) is scary? and the Japanese part of the international collaborative project Small World of Words, focus on investigation of the Japanese mental lexicon and its fundamental concepts such as family, identity, emotion, and work. 


Spatiality is a fundamental concept of our perception and expression. Investigation of spatial cognition and description patterns is considered to be one of the keys to understanding human cognition. This talk introduces a typology of patterns of spatial description based on the experimental work with Japanese native speakers. It presents an investigation of spatial description through a framework of cognitive linguistics. To highlight the results of this investigation, I will elaborate on discourse analysis on corpora obtained through a spontaneous speech experiment conducted to formulate the typology and on the discovery of a spatial perspective based on describing the space from front to back or vice versa.