Landscape categories and place names – A GIS-based analysis
Landscape categories, such as mountains and hills, are fundamental feature types in various national cartographic data standards. For multilingual spatial data discovery, identifying features of landscape categories across different countries’ spatial databases presents a challenge due to the fact that the related landscape categories in two countries’ national cartographic data standards often do not hold one-to-one relationships. Succinctly summarized as the ethnophysiography hypothesis, which states that people from different language groups or cultures have different ways of conceptualizing landscape, such complex relationships demand research into questions regarding cross-linguistic compatibility of landscape categories.
Previous research efforts dealing with ethnophysiography hypothesis often rely on expensive ethnography approaches or basic dictionary definitions. In this presentation, the possibility of using the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency GEOnet Names Server, a place name database for all countries except the US, as an exploratory tool to investigate landscape categories across languages is demonstrated and discussed. Using the data sets of Indonesia and Malaysia, the presentation provides preliminary clues on how NGA GNS can be used to learn landscape categories across two languages and their relationships.
Chen-Chieh Feng is Associate Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore