Semiotics and culture: The perception of time as a semiotic problem

Boris Uspenskij


The perception of time is culturally conditioned which means that in different cultures time may be experienced – perceived, conceptualized and evaluated – in diverse ways. The distinction between past, present and future seems to be a universal phenomenon, but the relations of these categories may be different in different cultural codes. The author defines two models of temporal perception, ‘historical’ and ‘cosmological’, analysing the conceptualization of time in each of them.


semiotics of time; time perception; history; cosmology; past; present; future

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SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia