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  • 1 Università di Firenze Firenze Italy
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In this paper, I will present a cross-linguistic analysis of the syntax of items signalling temporal distance. Based on insight from cartography and nanosyntax, I will argue that the mechanism of Phrasal Spell-out (and the Superset Principle) can elegantly explain why in many language ‘before’ and ‘ago’ meanings are expressed with the same word. I will present a previously unnoticed *ABA constraint (cf. Caha 2009; Bobaljik 2012) on lexical spans in the domain of temporal distance. The *ABA pattern will be crucial to account for possible counterexamples of Haspelmath’s (1997) fairly robust descriptive generalization,which states that forms expressing spatial relations of ‘front’ and ‘back’ regularly express anteriority and posteriority respectively, across languages when they are “shifted” from space to time (namely, beforein front; afterback).

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