Journal Details
First Published
10 Dec 2009
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
access type Open Access

Spatio-Temporal Systems in Shakespeare’s Dialogues: A Case from Julius Caesar

Published Online: 04 Jun 2021
Page range: -
Journal Details
First Published
10 Dec 2009
Publication timeframe
4 times per year

The purpose of this paper is to conduct the first systematic analysis of the spatio-temporal systems in Shakespeare’s dialogues along the lines of historical pragmatics and discourse analysis. The text used for analysis is The Riverside Shakespeare edited by Evans (1997).

Language employs spatio-temporal systems by which the speakers judge how distant the situations they wish to express are from their domain. Such relationships of space and time are embodied by spatio-temporal elements such as pronouns, demonstratives, adverbs, tenses, and modals, with a proximal (close) and distal (distant) distinction. These elements can be related to each other to take either a proximal or distal perspective not only in either the spatial or temporal domain, but also in the integrated spatio-temporal domain. The speakers can continue to take the same perspective, or alternate different perspectives, in discourse. However, few studies have attempted such a comprehensive analysis of spatio-temporal systems in the development of English, not to mention in its Early Modern period.

This paper performs both quantitative and qualitative analyses of the spatio-temporal systems in Julius Caesar. First, a quantitative analysis of how frequently each element of space and time is employed shows which perspective, i.e., proximal or distal, is likely to be taken. Second, a qualitative analysis reveals how these elements are related with each other to take either proximal or distal perspective, and how these perspectives change in discourse. In these analyses, the present paper pays attention to the interactions between the interlocutors in order to investigate how these interactions in dialogues impact the selection of elements of space and time.


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