Are the contents of toponyms meaningless, as it is often claimed in linguistic literature, or can the generic parts in toponyms, such as hill in Black Hill, be used to infer landscape descriptions? We investigate this question by, firstly, linking gazetteer data with topographic characteristics, and, secondly, by conducting analysis of how the use of landscape terms might have changed over time in a historic corpus. We thus aim at answering a linguistic, and ethnophysiographic, research question through digital input data and processing. Our study area is Switzerland and our main focus is on geographic eminences, and in particular on the use of the terms Spitze, Horn and Berg. We show that most prominent generic parts in toponyms show expected topographic characteristics. However, not all generic parts strictly follow this rule, as in the case of Berg. Some generic parts have lost their meaning in standard language over time (e.g. Horn). We therefore put a cautionary note on the use of generic parts in toponyms in landscape studies, but point out that the subtle details of these differences provide rich topics for future research.
|Name||Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)|
|Conference||11th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory, COSIT 2013|
|Period||2/09/13 → 6/09/13|
- generic parts
- landscape terms
- proper names