Language & Space

LING 230: Semester Two, 2019

Bringing together sociolinguistics and human geography, this course uses data analysis to explore the interaction between language and space. Within individuals, we look at how people inhabit and think about spaces like neighborhoods by using language data: can we build thematic maps of Christchurch using a corpus of newspaper articles? Within societies, we look at how language mapping reveals underlying populations: what can dialects of English tell us about historical settlement patterns and current migrations? At the same time, the interaction between language and space is always changing: can we identify one-off street festivals using topic clusters from social media? To answer these questions, this course combines basic GIS and text analytics techniques, exploring the fusion of linguistics and geography.

From Linguistics: Jonathan Dunn
From Geography: Ben Adams


1: Language and Space in the Individual

1 Place Names: What do we call this location?
Gazetteers (specific places) and toponyms (generic places) in a web corpus
2 Spatial Orientation: How do we describe our relation to this place?
Visualizing neighborhoods using references to place names on social media
3 Spatial Functions: How do we use this place? Affordance Theory
Word and topic frequencies to reveal how people use different neighborhoods
4 Spatial Metaphors: How do we conceptualize this place?
Identifying fictive motion in narrative texts: A jogger “running along the road” is moving but a fence “running along the road” is staying put

2: Language and Space in Society

5 Language Mapping and Census Data: Understanding populations
How well is US census data reflected in Twitter language use?
6 Settlement Patterns and Migration: Understanding population movement
Overhead imagery as a proxy for urban population change
7 Dialectal Variation: Understanding the effects of population movement
Linguistic change in newspaper archives as a proxy for urban population change
8 Language Planning and Policy: Reactions to population movement
Mapping local evaluations of immigrants and tourists using newspaper corpora

3: Language and Space Applied

9 Spatial Representation in Activity: Objects, fields, vagueness, and uncertainty
Example: Disambiguating place names using linguistic context and mapping non-existent place names using text (e.g., corpus-based Lord of the Rings maps)
10 Georeferencing and geoparsing: Where is this text about?
Example: Comparing local and non-local articles about Christchurch and local vs. non-local references to local places
11 Visualising language: Mapping and spatializing texts and topics
Example: Mapping reactions to olympic events on social media
12 Geographic information retrieval: An application that brings it all together
Applications of geographic information retrieval