Conceptual metaphors of time in Estonian

Keywords: time expressions, conceptual metaphors, Estonian

The article explores how time is referred to in Estonian. More specifically, being based on the theory of conceptual metaphors (Lakoff, Johnson 1980) the study is focused on which conceptual metaphors are used when speaking of time (aeg) in Estonian. Previously some attention has been given to Estonian metaphors from space to time, but there is still no survey of time metaphors. The research data come from a random sample of a thousand sentences with the word aeg ‘time’, all drawn from the Balanced Corpus of Estonian. The corpus data are supplemented with a Sketch Engine’s word sketch information on frequent collocations. The Estonian data are compared with lists of time metaphors representing other languages. The Estonian metaphorical expressions discovered can be divided between four general metaphors: 1) TIME IS PLACE, 2) MOVING EGO, 3) MOVING TIME, 4) TIME IS PHYSICAL ENTITY OR HUMAN BEING. Although a large part of the metaphors thus revealed can also be spotted in the respective lists of other languages, our analysis of the Estonian material provided a rather detailed and systematic picture of Estonian metaphors of time.


Ann Veismann (b. 1972), PhD, University of Tartu, Lecturer in Estonian and General ­Linguistics (Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu),