Monday, October 27, 2014

You said what? The spatial variance of language across Oz.

 Image above: Mapping bather language.

 Everything can be mapped

A consistent message on Spatialworlds over the years has been that you can map anything and everything. Some may say such maps (often called Map Porn) are a trivial waste of time and not worthy of geographical study.  But are they trivial? Who is to say what use a map map can be! Surely they may be useful to someone somewhere!! For example the map of lust across the US would have a use to someone, possibly!


So much of this type of social geography mapping is US based. Spatialworlds postings on spatial variance showed fascinating variance across space in the US on a very diverse and eclectic selection of 'things'. For example we can even map something like happiness in the US (see below). What would be the happiest place in Australia if we did such a map? 

This posting highlights a few such 'trivial' social geography maps, this time from Australia. The maps relate to the variance of language use across Australia, that is different places use different words for the same things. For example, scallops or potato cakes? Swimmers, cozzies or togs? Slippery dip or slippery slide? 

In Australia there is little regional variation in accents as shown in the above regional accents map. Most people are familiar with the long “a” used by some South Australians versus the short “a” used elsewhere. However there are larger differences in vocabulary, with a number of regionally specific words. For example, an oval-shaped piece of potato that has been battered and deep-fried. These are known as potato scallops or scallops in north-eastern Australia, potato cakes in south-eastern Australia, and potato fritters in South Australia.

The article and associated maps showcased on this posting involve the creation of some maps based on the PhD thesis published in 1992 by Pauline Bryant . Bryant surveyed the word or words used to describe 72 things across all states. From the results, she identified four main regions of “lexical usage”.

Here is another two of the fascinating maps on Australian language, this time on the names of a type of processed sausage and a water dispenser.

Thanks to David Butler for directing Spatialworlds to this interesting spatial take on language.

* Whilst on about spatial variance of language in Australia, it is also worth looking at the Australian Word Map produced jointly by the ABC and the Macquarie Dictionary.

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