Interpreting ‘Front:’ Perception of Space in Bengali and Kannada

Anirban Sarkara


This paper is concerned with the nature of ‘front’ along the front/back axis. The languages taken up for the study are Bengali, a language belonging to Indo-Aryan language family, and Kannada, a language belonging to Dravidian language family. The terms for denoting ‘front’ for Bengali are ‘samne’ and ‘aage’ and for Kannada are ‘yeduru’ and ‘munde’. Experience and embodiment of spatial arrangements play an important role in the spatial cognition, and language use takes into account the different points of view. Many factors such as proximity, vantage point, specificity, etc. play an important role in describing a given situation. It is worth mentioning that the choice of the usages of the words for denoting ‘front’ as location or direction has been seen as different in some situations and overlapping in others. The data were collected using a questionnaire which aimed to elicit the expressions for ‘front’ for the entities, whose relationship is described in terms of Figure and Ground (Talmy 1983; 2000), from the speakers of both the above-mentioned languages, and then analysed for the factors involved.