[T]he Aymara call the future qhipa pacha/timpu, meaning back or behind time, and the past nayra pacha/timpu, meaning front time. And they gesture ahead of them when remembering things past, and backward when talking about the future.That makes so much sense that you may wonder why no other languages took this attitude. But the obvious answer is that we see ourselves moving into the future, and when walking, you look where you're going. People who sit around reflecting on the past and not expecting much change in the future might naturally put the abstraction of time into the spatial metaphor chosen by the Aymara. But, I'm thinking, the people who survived and procreated and expanded geographically were the ones who visualized themselves walking into the future.
These are not mere mannerisms, the researchers argue; they are windows into the minds of Aymara speakers, who have a conception of future and past that is different from just about everyone else's.
The authors say the Aymara speakers see the difference between what is known and not known as paramount, and what is known is what you see in front of you, with your own eyes.
The past is known, so it lies ahead of you. (Nayra, or "past," literally means eye and sight, as well as front.) The future is unknown, so it lies behind you, where you can't see.
IN THE COMMENTS: Some informed, intense discussion of whether East Asian languages share the the quality the linked article says is unique to Aymara.