Looking Back To The Future – The Unusual Flow of Time Across Cultures
look forward to: to feel happy and excited about something that is going to happen
In English, when we are happy about something that is going to happen, we say we are ‘looking forward‘ to it. This phrase implies that the future is in front of us. Most people see the future ahead and the past behind, but that’s not true everywhere.
The Aymara, an indigenous group from South America, see the future behind them and the past in front. They gesture in front when they talk about their ancestors. They gesture behind to talk about future plans. Some Arabic speakers in Morocco and some Vietnamese speakers also see the past in front of them.
Time does not have to be horizontal, either. Some Mandarin speakers see it as vertical. They think of the future as being below them and the past above them.
Why do some see the future in front, while others see the future behind? One theory is that some cultures focus more on innovation and others more on tradition. Whichever is more important is in front. Another theory is that we face what we can see. The future is unknown, but we can clearly see what has already happened.
1. I look forward to my birthday every year because I love celebrating with my friends.
2. After a long winter, everyone looks forward to the first day of spring.
3. She is looking forward to her holiday in Paris.