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From microtoponyms to landscape using semantics, location, and topography: the case of Wald, Holz, Riet, and Moos in St. Gallen, Switzerland


Villette, Julia; Purves, Ross S (2020). From microtoponyms to landscape using semantics, location, and topography: the case of Wald, Holz, Riet, and Moos in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The Professional Geographer, 72(1):109-120.

Abstract

To explore landscape properties using language, we analyzed the semantics and associated physical properties of four generic landscape terms through spatially located microtoponyms in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen. We applied quantitative methods to physical and etymological data to understand how four common generic terms (Wald, Holz, Riet, and Moos) were used in microtoponyms in the canton. We observe that the meaningful elements associated with those generic terms characterize general properties of landscape independent of the feature type as well as specific properties linked to the feature. Moreover, using a toponym taxonomy, we compared co-occurrences of different terms (e.g., those associated with spatial relationships or vegetation) for the four generic terms. Holz, which we argue is more associated with land use than land cover, was markedly different in naming patterns from the other three generic terms, and we suggest that this was driven by a distinction between nature and culture. We conclude that the act of naming natural features is influenced not only by properties of the referent but also by broader scale landscape patterns and cognitive associations with landscape terms.

Abstract

To explore landscape properties using language, we analyzed the semantics and associated physical properties of four generic landscape terms through spatially located microtoponyms in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen. We applied quantitative methods to physical and etymological data to understand how four common generic terms (Wald, Holz, Riet, and Moos) were used in microtoponyms in the canton. We observe that the meaningful elements associated with those generic terms characterize general properties of landscape independent of the feature type as well as specific properties linked to the feature. Moreover, using a toponym taxonomy, we compared co-occurrences of different terms (e.g., those associated with spatial relationships or vegetation) for the four generic terms. Holz, which we argue is more associated with land use than land cover, was markedly different in naming patterns from the other three generic terms, and we suggest that this was driven by a distinction between nature and culture. We conclude that the act of naming natural features is influenced not only by properties of the referent but also by broader scale landscape patterns and cognitive associations with landscape terms.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Earth-Surface Processes, Geography, Planning and Development
Language:English
Date:2 January 2020
Deposited On:18 Dec 2019 13:08
Last Modified:21 Dec 2019 02:05
Publisher:Routledge
ISSN:1467-9272
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/00330124.2019.1653772

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