Bridging the gap between the near and the far: Displacement and representation

Arjan A. Nijk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


This article discusses the use of proximal deictic expressions to designate distal entities, focusing on the use of the present tense to designate past events. Cognitive approaches to this issue assume that such usages presuppose a special conceptual construal, in which the spatio-temporal distance between the ground and the designated event space is bridged in some way. In this paper, I argue that there are two distinct ways in which this may be accomplished. One is through mentally displacing the ground to the distal space, so that the designated events become proximal in relation to this alternative ground. The other involves bringing the distal space into the ground in the form of a representation. I describe the distinctive characteristics of the two scenarios, showing both where they converge and at what point the difference becomes relevant for linguistic analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-350
Number of pages24
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


Funding: This work was supported by the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Funder Id: 501100003246, Grant Number: 322-30-006).

FundersFunder number
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek322-30-006
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


    • deixis
    • historical present
    • past+now construction
    • tense
    • viewpoint


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