Diversity in Spatial Language Within Communities: The Interplay of Culture, Language and Landscape in Representations of Space (Short Paper)

Authors Bill Palmer, Alice Gaby, Jonathon Lum, Jonathan Schlossberg

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Author Details

Bill Palmer
  • University of Newcastle, Australia
Alice Gaby
  • Monash University, Australia
Jonathon Lum
  • Monash University, Australia
Jonathan Schlossberg
  • University of Newcastle, Australia

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Bill Palmer, Alice Gaby, Jonathon Lum, and Jonathan Schlossberg. Diversity in Spatial Language Within Communities: The Interplay of Culture, Language and Landscape in Representations of Space (Short Paper). In 10th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2018). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 114, pp. 53:1-53:8, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2018)


Significant diversity exists in the way languages structure spatial reference, and this has been shown to correlate with diversity in non-linguistic spatial behaviour. However, most research in spatial language has focused on diversity between languages: on which spatial referential strategies are represented in the grammar, and to a lesser extent which of these strategies are preferred overall in a given language. However, comparing languages as a whole and treating each language as a single data point provides a very partial picture of linguistic spatial behaviour, failing to recognise the very significant diversity that exists within languages, a largely under-investigated but now emerging field of research. This paper focuses on language-internal diversity, and on the central role of a range of sociocultural and demographic factors that intervene in the relationship between humans, languages, and the physical environments in which communities live.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Information systems → Geographic information systems
  • spatial language
  • Frame of Reference
  • landscape
  • sociotopography


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