Skip to main content

Geographic information systems and perceptual dialectology: a method for processing draw-a-map data

  • Chris Montgomery (a1) and Philipp Stoeckle (a2)

This article presents a new method for processing data gathered using the “draw-a-map” task in perceptual dialectology (PD) studies. Such tasks produce large numbers of maps containing many lines indicating nonlinguists’ perceptions of the location and extent of dialect areas. Although individual maps are interesting, and numerical data relating to the relative prominence of dialect areas can be extracted, an important value of the draw-a-map task is in aggregating data. This was always an aim of the contemporary PD method, although the nature of the data has meant that this has not always been possible. Here, we argue for the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in order to aggregate, process, and display PD data. Using case studies from the United Kingdom and Germany, we present examples of data processed using GIS and illustrate the future possibilities for the use of GIS in PD research.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Chris Montgomery, The School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, 2.27 Jessop West, 1 Upper Hanover Street, Sheffield S3 7RA, UK. Email
Hide All
Anders, Christina A. 2010. Wahrnehmungsdialektologie: Das Obersächsische im Alltagsverständnis von Laien. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Auer, Peter & Schmidt, Jürgen E. 2010. Language and space: An international handbook of linguistic variation, vol. 1: Theories and methods. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Britain, David. 2002. Space and spatial diffusion. In Chambers, J. K., Trudgill, P. & Schilling-Estes, N. (eds), The handbook of language variation and change, 603637. Oxford: Blackwell.
Britain, David. 2009. Language and space: The variationist approach. In Auer, P. & Schmidt, J. E. (eds), Language and space, an international handbook of linguistic variation, 142162. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Britain, David. 2010. Conceptualisations of geographic space in linguistics. In A. Lameli, R. Kehrein & S. Rabanus (eds), Language and space, an international handbook of linguistic variation, vol. 2: Language mapping, 6997. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Bucholtz, Mary, Bermudez, Nancy, Fung, Victor, Edwards, Lisa & Vargas, Rosalva. 2007. Hella nor Cal or totally so Cal? The perceptual dialectology of California. Journal of English Linguistics 35: 325352.
Bucholtz, Mary, Bermudez, Nancy, Fung, Victor, Vargas, Rosalva & Edwards, Lisa. 2008. The normative North and the stigmatized South: Ideology and methodology in the perceptual dialectology of California. Journal of English Linguistics 36: 6287.
Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie. 2011. GeoDatenZentrum. Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie. ( 6 November, 2011 ).
Butters, Ronald R. 1991. Dennis Preston, perceptual dialectology. Language in Society 20: 294299.
Cohen, Anthony. 1985. The symbolic construction of community. London: Routledge.
Cukor-Avila, Patricia, Jeon, Lisa, Rector, Patrícia C., Tiwari, Chetan & Shelton, Zak. 2012. Texas – It's like a whole nuther country: Mapping Texans’ perceptions of dialect variation in the Lone Star state. In Proceedings from the Twentieth Annual Symposium about Language and Society, Austin, TX: Texas Linguistics Forum.
Edina. 2011. Digimap collections. ( 28 September, 2011 ).
ESRI. 2011a. ArcGIS Resource Center. ( 10 November, 2011 ).
ESRI. 2011b. What is GIS? ( 12 October, 2011 ).
Evans, Betsy E. 2011. Seattle to Spokane: Mapping English in Washington state. ( 12 October, 2011 ).
Garrett, Peter. 2010. Attitudes to language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Geofabrik. 2011. Geofabrik. ( 2 July, 2012 ).
Gomarasca, Marion A. 2009. Basics of geomatics. London and New York: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg.
Goodey, Brian. 1971. City scene: An exploration into the image of central Birmingham as seen by area residents. Birmingham: Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Birmingham.
Gould, Peter & White, Rodney. 1986. Mental maps, 2nd edn. Boston: Allen & Unwin.
GRASS Development Team. 2011. GRASS GIS. ( 12 October, 2011 ).
Grootaers, Willem A. 1999. The discussion surrounding the subjective boundaries of dialects. In Preston, D. R. (ed.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 1: 115129. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Heywood, Ian, Cornelius, Sarah & Carver, Steve. 2006. An introduction to geographical information systems, 3rd edn. Harlow, UK: Pearson Prentice Hall.
HM Government. 2011. Opening up government. ( 28 September, 2011 ).
Institut für Deutsche Sprache. 2011. Archiv für Gesprochenes Deutsch. ( 6 November, 2011 ).
Jeon, Lisa & Cukor-Avila, Patricia. 2012. Urbanicity and language variation and change: Mapping dialect perceptions in and of Seoul. Sociolinguistic Symposium 19, Berlin, Germany.
Jewell, Helen M. 1994. The north-south divide: The origins of northern consciousness in England. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Kehrein, Roland, Alfred, Lameli & Stefan, Rabanus. 2011. Introduction, xixvii. In Lameli, A., Kehrein, R. & Rabanus, S. (eds), Language and Space – An International Handbook of Linguistic Variation, Volume 2: Language Mapping. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Kerswill, Paul. 2003. Dialect levelling and geographical diffusion in British English. In Britain, D. & Cheshire, J. (eds), Social dialectology: In honour of Peter Trudgill, 223243. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Kinchen, Rosie. 2011. Howay! Youths adopt hip accents. The Sunday Times, p. 11.
Kirk, John M. & Kretzschmar, William A.. 1992. Interactive linguistic mapping of dialect features. Literary and Linguistic Computing 7: 168175.
Kretzschmar, William A. 1999. Preface. In Preston, D. R. (ed.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 1: xviixviii. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Kretzschmar, William A. 2005. Linguistic atlas projects. ( 10 August, 2011 ).
Labov, William, Ash, Sharon & Boberg, Charles. 2006. The atlas of North American English: Phonetics, phonology, and sound change: A multimedia reference tool. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Lameli, Alfred, Giessler, Tanja, Kehrein, Roland, Lenz, Alexandra, Müller, Karl-Heinz, Nickel, Jost, Purschke, Christoph & Rabanus, Stefan. 2010. DiWA. Digital Wenker Atlas. ( 10 August, 2011 ).
Lameli, Alfred, Kehrein, Roland & Rabanus, Stefan. 2010. Language and space, an international handbook of linguistic variation, vol. 2: Language mapping. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Lameli, Alfred, Purschke, Christoph & Kehrein, Roland. 2008. Stimulus und Kognition. Zur Aktivierung mentaler Raumbilder. Linguistik Online 35(3): 5586.
Llamas, Carmen. 2000. Middlesbrough English: Convergent and divergent trends in a “part of Britain with no identity”. Leeds Working Papers in Linguistics and Phonetics 8: 123148.
Long, Daniel. 1997. The perception of “standard” as the speech variety of a specific region: Computer-produced maps of perceptual dialect regions. In Thomas, A. R. (ed.), Issues and methods in dialectology, 256270. Bangor: University of Wales Press.
Long, Daniel. 1999. Geographical perception of Japanese dialect regions. In Preston, D. R. (ed.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 1: 177198. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Lynch, Kevin. 1960. The image of the city. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
MapInfo Corporation. 2011. MapInfo. ( 12 October, 2011 ).
Mase, Yoshio. 1999. Dialect consciousness and dialect divisions: Examples in the Nagano-Gifu boundary region. In Preston, D. R. (ed.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 1: 7199. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
McKinnie, Meghan & Dailey-O'Cain, Jennifer. 2002. A perceptual dialectology of Anglophone Canada from the perspective of young Albertans and Ontarians. In Long, D. & Preston, D. R. (eds), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 2: 277294. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Montgomery, Chris. 2007. Northern English dialects: A perceptual approach. Sheffield: University of Sheffield dissertation.
Montgomery, Chris. 2011. Perceptual dialectology, bespoke methods and the future for data processing. 8th United Kingdom Language Variation and Change Conference (UKLVC8), Edge Hill University.
Montgomery, Chris. 2012. The effect of proximity in perceptual dialectology. Journal of Sociolinguistics 16(5): 638668.
Nash Parker, Robert & Asencio, Emily K. 2008. GIS and spatial analysis for the social sciences: Coding, mapping and modelling. London: Routledge.
Nerbonne, John, Heggarty, Paul, van Hout, Roeland & Robey, David. 2008. Panel discussion on computing and the humanities. In Nerbonne, J., Gooskens, C., Kürschner, S. & van Bezooijen, R. (eds), International journal of humanities and arts computing, special issue on computing and language variation. 2: 243259. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Onishi, Isao & Long, Daniel. 1997. Perceptual dialectology quantifier (PDQ) for Windows. ( 2 July, 2012 ).
Ordnance Survey. 2011. OS open data. ( 28 September, 2011 ).
Orleans, Peter. 1967. Differential cognition of urban residents: Effects of social scale on mapping. In Truxal, J. G. (ed.), Science, engineering, and the city, 103117. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.
Preston, Dennis R. 1982. Perceptual dialectology: Mental maps of United States dialects from a Hawaiian perspective. Hawaii Working Papers in Linguistics 14: 549.
Preston, Dennis R. 1986. Five visions of America. Language in Society 15: 221240.
Preston, Dennis R. 1988. Change in the perception of language varieties. In Fisiak, J. (ed.), Historical dialectology: Regional and social, 475504. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Preston, Dennis R. 1993. Folk dialectology. In Preston, D. R. (ed.), American dialect research, 333377. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Preston, Dennis R. 1999a. A language attitude approach to the perception of regional variety. In Preston, D. R. (ed.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 1: 359375. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Preston, Dennis R. 1999b. Introduction. In Preston, D. R. (ed.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 1: xxiiixxxix. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Preston, Dennis R. 2010. Perceptual dialectology in the 21st century. In Anders, C. A, Hundt, M. & Lasch, A. (eds), Perceptual dialectology. Neue Wege der Dialektologie (Linguistik – Impulse & Tendenzen), 130. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Preston, Dennis R & Howe, George M. 1987. Computerized studies of mental dialect maps. In Denning, K. M., Inkelas, S., McNair-Knox, F. & Rickford, J. (eds), Variation in language: NWAV-XV at Stanford (Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Conference on New Ways of Analyzing Variation). 361378. Stanford, CA: Department of Linguistics, Stanford University.
Purschke, Christoph. 2011. Regional linguistic knowledge and perception: On the conceptualization of Hessian. Dialectologia 2, Special Issue, 91118.
QGIS. 2011. Quantum GIS: Welcome to the Quantum GIS project. ( 12 October, 2011 ).
Saurer, Helmut & Behr, Franz-Joseph. 1997. Geographische Informationssysteme. Eine Einführung, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
Sibata, Takesi. 1999. Consciousness of dialect boundaries. In Preston, D. R. (ed.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 1: 3963. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Stoeckle, Philipp. 2010. Subjektive Dialektgrenzen im Alemannischen Dreiländereck. In Anders, C. A., Hundt, M. & Lasch, A. (eds), Perceptual dialectology – Neue Wege der Dialektologie, 291315. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Stoeckle, Philipp. 2011. The constitution of subjective dialect areas: Towards a hierarchisation of lay classification strategies. 6th International Conference on Language Variation in Europe, Freiburg, Germany.
Stoeckle, Philipp. 2012. The folk-linguistic construction of local dialect areas – linguistic and extra-linguistic factors. In Hansen, S., Schwarz, C., Stoeckle, P. & Streck, T. (eds), Dialectological and folk dialectological concepts of space. Current methods and perspectives in sociolinguistic research on dialect change, 142163, 271275. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
The Economist. 2011. England's regional accents: Geordie's still alreet. ( 7 September, 2011 ).
Trudgill, Peter. 1999. The dialects of England, 2nd edn. Oxford: Blackwell.
U.K. Data Archive. 2011. ( 28 September, 2011 ).
Wachman, Richard. 2011. North-South divide widens as public sector cuts hit businesses. The Guardian. ( 2 July, 2012 ).
Weijnen, Antonius A. 1946. De Grenzen Tussen de Oost-Noordbrabantse Dialecten Onderin. In Weijnen, A. A., Renders, M. & van Guineken, J. (eds), Oost-Noordbrabantse Dialectproblernen, 115. Bijdragen en Mededelingen der Dialecrencommissie van de Koninkjke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen te Amsterdam VII. Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij.
Wise, Stephen. 2002. GIS basics. London: Taylor & Francis.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Linguistic Geography
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2049-7547
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-linguistic-geography
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed