Containment and Division

Evaluating Class-Based Metaphors in Higher Education


  • Terry McDonough University Centre at Blackburn College



Language matters. It’s as much about the words we use, as it is about what those words reveal about how we think. This is because a language is a culturally transmitted system (Tomasello, 2014). No speaker can ever possess, or even know, the entire code that makes up the system. Instead, speakers have access to the parts that they use the most. Even then, there can be a lot of variation between speakers. There is a good deal of variation between languages, too. Different languages conceptualise the world in different ways. For an English speaker, time moves horizontally from left to right; for a Chinese speaker, time moves vertically from the top down (Boroditsky, 2000). Wherever we look, time is always associated with space. It seems we can’t even think about time without also thinking about space.


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